Alarm at rise in se­cu­rity costs

Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cials spend­ing more and more on be­ing pro­tected

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS NDALISO

SPEND­ING on the se­cu­rity de­tail for ethek­wini mayor Mx­olisi Kaunda, his deputy Belinda Scott and Speaker Weziwe Thusi has in­creased, and the na­tional Co- op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Traditiona­l Af­fairs ( Cogta) port­fo­lio com­mit­tee is de­mand­ing rea­sons for the ad­di­tional spend­ing.

It is not clear how many body­guards the trio have, but a source at the city said Kaunda’s pre­de­ces­sor, Zandile Gumede, had two body­guards at any given time.

At her home, she had four for day and night shifts.

“When go­ing out to func­tions, she would have her two guards and there would be a back- up car of Metro se­cu­rity de­tail,” said the source.

“Sit­u­a­tions are dif­fer­ent so maybe there are rea­sons why se­cu­rity has been beefed up for the cur­rent lead­er­ship.

“For ex­am­ple, if a mayor has three wives, there has to be guards for each wife’s house so that if his sched­ule dic­tates that he must be in one house, then he must be pro­tected. The only peo­ple who can share bet­ter in­for­ma­tion are those in author­ity in the city, but we know for sure that there are ad­di­tional body­guards for the in­cum­bent mayor,” the source said.

At an en­gage­ment with the city lead­er­ship dur­ing its over­sight visit on Fri­day, the Cogta port­fo­lio com­mit­tee raised con­cerns about the spend­ing on se­cu­rity for the three.

Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Faith Muthambi said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s high ex­pen­di­ture on se­cu­rity- re­lated ser­vices was a con­cern.

“While the com­mit­tee ac­knowl­edged the prob­lem of po­lit­i­cal killings in the province, it has cau­tioned against the ex­ces­sive spend­ing on se­cu­rity. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been re­quested to pro­vide proof of a risk and threat anal­y­sis con­ducted by the SAPS, to sub­stan­ti­ate the need for ad­di­tional body­guards for the mayor, deputy mayor, Speaker and coun­cil­lors,” Muthambi said.

Han­iff Hoosen, a DA na­tional Cogta com­mit­tee mem­ber, said the city lead­er­ship was un­able to an­swer “many ques­tions”, some re­lat­ing to the in­creased se­cu­rity for the lead­ers in ques­tion.

Hoosen said R85 mil­lion had been spent on se­cu­rity for the past fi­nan­cial year.

“About the threat anal­y­sis, they ( city lead­er­ship in­clud­ing Kaunda) were not able to give an­swers to that ef­fect. There is a mas­sive back­log in hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture, yet re­sources are spent on things that can­not be ex­plained. This doesn’t give a sense that this lead­er­ship is striv­ing for good gov­er­nance,” said Hoosen.

He said ethek­wini was one of a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that had been flagged as dis­tressed mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Some of the ques­tions the city was un­able to re­spond to in­cluded the con­tro­ver­sial Rev­enue Man­age­ment Sys­tem ( RMS) foren­sic au­dit re­port of Fe­bru­ary 2020 which rec­om­mended that a se­nior city of­fi­cial be charged for fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct af­ter the project bal­looned from an es­ti­mated R150 mil­lion to R1.1 bil­lion; the spend­ing of four times the stip­u­lated R278 per box of gloves; about R2 000 on plas­tic body­suits in­stead of the stip­u­lated R300, and the se­cu­rity de­tail for the mayor, deputy and Speaker.

The gloves and body­suits re­lated to Covid- 19 spend­ing as per the di­rec­tive of the Na­tional Trea­sury.

IFP coun­cil mem­ber Mdu Nkosi said it was dif­fi­cult for op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors to know how much has been spent so far on se­cu­rity for Kaunda and oth­ers.

“This new lead­er­ship is not trans­par­ent on those mat­ters. This in­crease in body­guards was never brought to Exco. We are grate­ful that the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee raises these is­sues be­cause the cur­rent ( po­lit­i­cal) lead­er­ship in ethek­wini be­have like they have a right to abuse coun­cil re­sources.

“This se­crecy shows that there are a lot of shenani­gans by the coun­cil lead­er­ship,” Nkosi said.

City spokesper­son Msawakhe Mayisela re­ferred the Daily News to may­oral spokesper­son Mluleki Mn­tungwa, who said he was not in a po­si­tion to dis­cuss the se­cu­rity de­tail of the mayor or that of his deputy and Speaker in pub­lic.

“This is a sen­si­tive is­sue. I don’t know how many body­guards the pre­vi­ous mayor had. I don’t know how many the cur­rent mayor has. The may­oral se­cu­rity de­tail is not dis­cussed in pub­lic,” Mn­tungwa said.

He said he would find the se­cu­rity cost and re­vert at a later stage.

City man­ager Sipho Nzuza could not be reached for com­ment.

If a mayor has three wives, there has to be guards for each wife’s house Source

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