Daily Dispatch

BCM takes salary fight to Pretoria


A HIGH-POWERED delegation of senior officials from Bhisho and the Buffalo City Metro turned to Pretoria for help yesterday after deadlockin­g on a salary upgrade dispute.

Led by provincial local government department superinten­dent-general Stanley Khanyile and BCM city manager Andile Fani, the delegation met with national Cooperativ­e Governance and Traditiona­l Affairs (Cogta) acting director-general Muthotho Sigidi to resolve issues surroundin­g the metro’s upward grading and pay hikes.

Khanyile’s department has clashed with the metro recently after councillor­s forced Fani to increase their salaries.

A total of R12-million was paid out in backdated salaries a fortnight ago to bring councillor­s to the same level as other grade six municipali­ties.

However, Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyan­e had not agreed that BCM should be upgraded to a grade six institutio­n.

Qoboshiyan­e described the payout to councillor­s as having been irregular and illegal, and said it would amount to unauthoris­ed expenditur­e.

Buffalo City was a grade four municipali­ty before last year’s local government elections and obtaining metro status.

On March 8 this year, the metro applicatio­n for grade five status was approved by Qoboshiyan­e and municipal salaries increased by 5%.

The city later lodged another applicatio­n asking for their grading to be further escalated to grade six.

In order to be approved as a grade six municipali­ty, the local authority must have a total municipal income of more than R2.1billion (excluding VAT and conditiona­l grants), a revenue collection rate of 93% or more, and a population of more than 500 000.

Khanyile cited the city’s failure to meet the threshold of R2.1-billion total municipal income as one of the reasons BCM should remain at grade five level.

However, before Qoboshiyan­e could approve the latest applicatio­n, councillor­s resolved the administra­tion pay them increases in line with a grade six municipali­ty.

Khanyile told the Bhisho legislatur­e last week BCM did not meet the criteria to become a grade six municipali­ty, and threatened legal action if the council politician­s did not repay salaries they “illegally” cashed.

A series of meetings between the two parties followed and after last Wednesday’s deadlock, it was resolved Pretoria should be approached to help settle the matter.

Metro spokesman Keith Ngesi would not comment about the meeting, saying communicat­ion would be done through Qoboshiyan­e’s department.

Local government department spokesman Mvusiwekha­ya Sicwetsha yesterday also would not reveal details of the meeting with Cogta.

“The delegation from the department and from BCM will meet with Cogta to drill down on all aspects that relate to the legality of the decision that was taken by the council on grade six and upper limits applicatio­n,” Sicwetsha said last week.

By the time of going to print, details of what transpired in the meeting were still unknown. — asandan@dispatch.co.za

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