Johannesburg – Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has told the country’s 257 municipalities not to pay for more than two bodyguards for mayors and speakers of their councils.
According to the determination of the upper limits of salaries, allowances and benefits of members of municipal councils, which was published on Friday, mayors and speakers may not have more than two bodyguards, and municipalities can only deviate from this based on the recommendations of the police.
Other councillors, states Mkhize’s determination, can get personal security only after a threat and risk analysis conducted by the police.
The moves come as documents seen by Independent Media show that the cash-strapped Buffalo City Metro in the Eastern Cape spent more than R10.2 million on 14 full-time bodyguards for its mayor, Xola Pakati, his deputy Zoliswa Matana and speaker Alfred Mtsi.
The municipality’s financial statements for the year that ended in June show that it spent more than R11.2m on the bodyguards last year.
Mkhize said he had consulted all nine MECs responsible for local government before making his determination and that municipalities must take into account affordability and austerity measures approved by the cabinet.
In terms of the salary increases approved by Mkhize, the top-earning mayors will be paid more than R1.35m a year, and the lowest paid just over R752 000.
Full-time deputy mayors, speakers, members of mayoral committees and chairpersons of committees will be paid between almost R1.1m and just more than R553 000.
Part-time mayors, deputy mayors members of mayoral committees, chairpersons of committees and ordinary councillors will now earn between R238 000 and R757 000 a year.
Mkhize has warned municipalities that any overpayment to councillors, including bonuses, bursaries, loans, advances or other benefits not in accordance with the Municipal Finance Management Act, is irregular expenditure and must be recovered from councillors and may not be written off.
Other perks bankrolled by ratepayers include cellphone allowances of R3 400 a month, laptops or tablets for all councillors, and official accommodation complete with fittings and furniture for full-time mayors.
Ratepayers also fork out for “special risk cover” for councillors facing the risk of service delivery protests. “A municipality must take out risk insurance cover which covers the loss of/or damage to a councillor’s personal immovable or movable property and assets, as well as life and disability cover for any loss or damage caused by riot, strike or public disorder,” reads the determination.
A councillor’s residential property can be insured for up to R1.5m, while the limit on cars is R750 000. Municipalities can insure a councillor’s life for up to twice their total annual remuneration package. In cases where a councillor’s residential property is damaged or destroyed as a result of a riot, civil unrest, strike or public disorder, municipalities must provide alternative accommodation for 30 days after such an incident.