Durban passes the ball on long-term sports club leases

Picture credit: Brendan Moran / ICC / SPORTSFILE --- Image by © Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE/Corbis

With most of the local sports clubs in Amanzimtoti being housed in leased buildings owned by Ethekwini Municipality, and on short-term, month to month leases, questions are being asked about the city’s commitment to healthy living.

Sport investment and development across eThekwini is being seriously compromised by the municipality’s inability to draw a conclusion on a moratorium to enter into long-term leases with sport clubs, according to ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge, who is also the Democratic Alliance whip of municipal public accounts committee.

“The vast majority of sport club leases have been reduced to ‘month to month’, in turn resulting in a reluctance to invest and as such, jeopardising the future of clubs and sport in general,” said Cllr Beetge.

“Despite city manager, Sipho Nzuza’s assurances that the matter will attract the necessary attention during his address to the Durban South Business Forum (DSBF) in Amanzimtoti on 28 August, 60 days later the situation remains unchanged.”

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In its effort to secure clarity on what appears a highly controversial matter, the DA posed the following questions to full council during its sitting of Thursday, 26 October:

1. Whether the practise of reducing leases from long-term to ‘month to month’ is under revision?

2. Who takes responsibility for such a revision?

3. When last has the sport lease committee congregated to consider such matters?

4. Whether the city’s real estate department has the capacity to convert leases to long-term?

5. Whether real estate has the capacity to lead and assist clubs towards long-term leases?

6. Whether clubs which meet the criteria for long-term leases and have been waiting for several years pending a revision decision, would be prioritised thus creating capacity, while others are assisted to meet such criteria?

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“While questions were submitted timely and appear straight to the point on a matter that has been passed from pillar to post for years, executive committee member and chairman of the community services committee, Cllr Zamazulu Sokhabase refused answers. He said they were still ‘investigating’ the matter,” said Cllr Beetge.

“This against the backdrop of the sub-committee for consideration of sport leases not having convened for some three years and sport clubs being subjected to increased vandalism, vagrancy and general lack in maintenance.

Maybe the questions that should be asked is what’s being hidden or why the insistence on denying sport clubs the opportunity to maintain and enhance municipal infrastructure by extending them some confidence in the form of a term lease?

The eviction of traders from the Stables trading node and the controversy around Hoy Park, along with the previously rumoured investment from Liverpool into local soccer, inevitably comes to mind.

The reality is time is being wasted and people’s property is systematically being degraded and assets devalued, while the ANC-led council continues to investigate and bargain deals instead of just doing the correct and logical thing by extending sport clubs that meet the requirements, term leases.

Amanzimtoti Sports Centre chairman, Craig Chamier confirmed that most of the Toti sports clubs are currently on month to month leases.

The buildings which house ASC’s tenant Lords and Legends, ablutions and function hall is on a month to month lease. This area is utilised by all of ASC’s 11 sporting and recreational affiliates and the general public.

The soccer building is still awaiting a month to month lease, which was applied for in July 2015. The squash building is on a month to month lease, as are the tennis buildings and courts.

“It is only the rugby club buildings and bowling club area that have longer leases in place, as they exercised the renewal clauses,” said Chamier. “As it currently stands they will eventually lapse into month to month leases as well. As the leases come to an end, there are no options for an extension or renewal.

There is a deathly silence from the powers that be. We are operating in a vacuum but remain focused on our goals, despite us jumping through all the hoops required by eThekwini since 2010.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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