City funds staffer’s funeral

2008-04-13 00:00

R20 000 towards burial of ‘political appointee’

The Msunduzi Municipality, constantly berated by the public for not having enough money to replace street lights or fix potholes, paid over R20 000 towards the funeral expenses of a youth manager who was only in their employ for about six months.

According to sources, the municipality paid for buses to the tune of R18 000, T-shirts and a tent for the funeral service of Sakhile Zondi (30), who was a manager in the youth unit.

Other staff are asking whether they can expect a similar contribution from council’s coffers for their funerals or if there are special circumstances in this case.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell sent The Witness his report to council’s executive meeting. He said he authorised the expenditure after a request by both staff and political office bearers of the council, “and in accordance with financial regulations, with funding coming from unspent general expenses”.

“A marquee was required as well as a limited number of T-shirts. The total expenditure is [about] R20 000.”

He added that it has become customary to provide transport, if requested, to staff who wish to attend the funeral of a colleague.

But according to sources, a council-owned minibus is made available for staff wanting to attend funerals. For many of them the bigger question remains: Who was Zondi?

Municipal employees, including senior officials, did not know him, saying he had not worked long enough in city hall for them to meet him.

Zondi is believed to have started in August last year and was on sick leave for the past three months.

Staff believe he came from activist and ANC circles and was a political appointment to the municipality.

Inquiries in youth circles described him as a former teacher who had a reputation for being a good writer. They believe he assisted certain politicians by writing speeches. His getting a job at the municipality was seen as a reward for his speech-writing and to keep him close for this service.

Apparently, Zondi’s appointment was initially not welcomed by youth structures. There was a group within the ANCYL that opposed his appointment, saying they were not consulted.

At the Exco meeting the ANC authorised the expenditure, while the DA did not support the recommendation on the basis that it set a precedent.

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