The big overtime cash-in

2010-03-05 00:00

DESPITE repeated requests by members of the executive committee (Exco) for Msunduzi Municipality officials to curb overtime, it has continued to spiral out of control.

For months the names of the Msunduzi Municipality officials authorising overtime claims have been kept under wraps, but The Witness can now reveal who they are.

Last week, The Witness obtained a 16-page document reflecting the overtime payments for January.

According to the document, the four main authorisers are: acting public safety and security manager Kenny Chetty; manager in the municipal manager’s office Madeleine Jackson-Plaaitjies; acting deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services Thokozani Maseko; and community development process manager Mandla Zuma.

According to the January figures, which do not include basic pay, Chetty authorised overtime payments to the tune of more than R2,3 million.

With the overtime claims for January totalling R3 907 683, Chetty alone signed more than half of the individual claims.

This occurred despite chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan telling Exco in January that the municipality was left with an overtime budget of just R1 million for the following six months.

Chetty signed off on 210 individual claims ranging from R389 to a massive R47 473. The biggest claim is from a senior traffic officer, who said he had worked an extra 381 hours.

Chetty refused to answer questions from The Witness, saying the information was confidential.

Jackson-Plaaitjies authorised more than R160 000 for eight individuals, including single claims ranging from R2 344 to R40 759.

The biggest claim signed off by Jackson-Plaaitjies came from a VIP bodyguard, who allegedly worked an additional 374 hours outside of his normal working hours.

Jackson-Plaaitjies issued the following statement: “I would like to place on record that ever since the Exco resolution was taken in November, I have not approved any overtime for any VIP bodyguards or any other overtime in contravention of the overtime policy and Exco resolution. The contents of this report are incorrect and I will be taking it up with … [acting municipal manager Kevin Perumal].”

Zuma authorised more than R1,5 million in total for 333 people. He authorised individual amounts, from a high of R21 760 to a low of R123. The R21 760 claim was made by a refuse collector, who allegedly clocked up an extra 487 hours.

Zuma told The Witness that overtime on refuse collection, including the clearing of rubbish at garden refuse sites, rubbish containers and rubbish bins, necessitated exceeding the 40 hours-a-month stipulation due to the non-availability of trucks at times because of breakdowns and the age of the vehicles — and many other aspects such as the cleaning of public toilets.

The city has outgrown the refuse removal fleet it has, said Zuma.

He said the process of submitting overtime claims needs to be questioned, because before they get to the signatories, the claims are approved by supervisors, foremen and operations managers.

“Even though overtime is high [especially in the waste management division] it shows the level of operational challenges that we are faced with. If we had not attended to the challenges, service delivery would suffer and residents would be unhappy,” said the deputy municipal manager for community services, Zwe Hulane.

Maseko’s authorisation of more than R64 000 went to 173 employees, and ranged from R98 to R23 757. The highest claim was made by a maintenance assistant, who claimed for 100 extra hours.

Although Maseko also failed to respond to questions posed by The Witness, sources said his department deals with a lot of after-hours queries, especially those pertaining to electricity outages and burst pipes, so his authorisations are more understandable.

Perumal and Bridgmohan did not respond to The Witness’s questions.

At yesterday’s Exco meeting, Perumal said that although he wanted to respond to the e-mail, he had not yet had the opportunity, as he has been tied up in managing the crisis of the striking municipal workers.

Although the overtime report was on the agenda, it didn’t come up for discussion, as the meeting was closed early so officials could leave to discuss measures to deal with the strike.

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