Overtime madness in Msunduzi Municipality

2009-11-12 00:00

INDIVIDUAL overtime claims at the Msunduzi Municipality have reached shocking proportions and evidence indicates that many security staffers are getting away with earning fat-cat salaries at ratepayers’ expense.

According to a list of just 36 of the municipality’s many security personnel, singular overtime claims per person for July and August range from R3 731,56 to R53 980,74. These amounts exclude basic pay.

For instance, one of deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks’s bodyguards pocketed R45 578,49 for overtime in July, while August saw him take home an overtime amount of R47 988,95. This adds up to an individual overtime total of R93 567,44 in just two months.

One of mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo’s bodyguards received R37 534,70 for overtime in July and his August overtime pay reached R46 592,88. His two-month individual overtime total amounted to R84 127,58.

But bodyguards are not the only municipal security employees who are pocketing exorbitant amounts in overtime.

The list also cites the excessive overtime payments dished out to traffic officers and security guards. For example, one earned R31 933,72 in July and R53 980,74 in August, bringing his two-month total to R85 914, 46.

Another received R34 327,86 for July and R39 983,58 in August, which amounted to R74 311,44 over the two months.

September salary slips in the possession of The Witness tell the same story. A security officer in training pocketed R39 085,20 in overtime, which is almost four times his basic monthly salary of R10 245,55. His gross earnings for the month were R52 270,55.

Even refuse collectors are coining it. One managed to pocket R15 030,40 in overtime for September, which was a major boost to his basic monthly salary of R5 328,12. He grossed a tidy R21 371,07 for that month.

Given these figures, it comes as no surprise that the municipality is failing to curb overtime spending.

Last month, The Witness reported that the municipality had already spent R25 million of the R33,5 million overtime budget barely three months into the new financial year.

Hlatshwayo said at the time: “It seems to be unregulated and it is all over the place in waste, in traffic, in security.”

At the end of the 2008/09 financial year, The Witness reported that the municipality managed to exceed its R43,4 million overtime budget by a whopping R22,5 million.

Leading the pack in terms of overtime expenditure that year was the community services business unit. It alone used up R29,5 million out of the R43,4 million overtime budget.

Asked to comment about the municipality’s poor financial discipline, Dirks — who is acting mayor in Hlatshwayo’s absence — said it is an administrative issue that the relevant managers should comment on.

Deputy municipal manager for community services Zwe Hulane referred The Witness to municipal manager Rob Haswell for comment, but Haswell failed to respond by the time of going to print. Attempts to get a response from the municipality’s chief financial officer, Roy Bridgmohan, were also unsuccessful.

According to the Labour Relations Act, it is not legal for employees to work more than 10 hours of overtime a week.

In a report by Haswell on October 8, with the title “Reduction Overtime Expenditure”, he admits that the municipality is contravening the act and are spending too much on overtime.

“From a budget of R33,5 million for the 09/10 year, we have only some R8 million left, and many employees are working for more than the maximum 10 hours of overtime per week as prescribed in the act,” wrote Haswell.

According to the Labour Relations Act, it is not legal for employees to work more than 10 hours of overtime a week.

In a report written by Rob Haswell on October 8 with the title “Reduction Overtime Expenditure”, he admits that the municipality is contravening the act and are spending too much on overtime.

“From a budget of R33, 5 million for the 09/10 year, we have only some R8 million left, and many employees are working for more than the maximum 10 hours of overtime per week as prescribed in the act,” wrote Haswell.

“I’M absolutely horrified,” said DA councillor Bill Lambert.

He told The Witness his party has raised the overtime issue constantly in Exco meetings, and Haswell was ordered to bring a report to Exco explaining how he is going to save council’s overtime money.

“If it was known that these people were exceeding the legal overtime limits, why was it not acted upon? This is a joke that’s not even funny,” he said.

IFP councillor Dolo Zondi said he is alarmed and cannot understand how general workers can earn such massive salaries.

“It has been happening for some time. Ever since I’ve been a councillor in this municipality, we’ve been cautioning against overtime,” he said.

Zondi said he had asked Exco in the past to get an assessment risk level that would probe whether bodyguards are indeed necessary.

“It’s not opposition parties that are threatening them. They need bodyguards to protect them from people in their own party.”

He said the overtime issue is proof that management was failing because they are the ones who sign off on the payments.

“THIS situation in Msunduzi is just another indication of an organisation where the management appears to have completely lost the political willpower to implement systems and controls. There are little or no up-front working systems required to be in place to measure and monitor council resolutions, service delivery, financial controls, much less complaints and responses to and from the ratepayer.

“The deputy municipal managers (DMMs) are not being held accountable by the municipal manager. The municipal manager no longer appears accountable to the mayor.

“How is one able to establish if this money was in fact paid when, generally, all correspondence to the DMM for community services, Zwe Hulane, under whose control the security, traffic, waste, parks and health units fall, is without fail never responded to, and is simply ignored by him, and those who fall under his control?

“The situation is fast reaching the stage in Msunduzi where the lunatics now appear to be running the asylum.”

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