Alarm at rise in security costs
Municipality officials spending more and more on being protected
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