Umtshezi likened to ‘Wild West’

2011-11-30 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party in Estcourt have likened the cash-strapped Umtshezi Municipality to the “Wild West”.

The municipality is run as a coalition between the ANC and the National Freedom Party.

Tom Stokes, a DA member of provincial parliament and the party’s constituency leader in Umtshezi, said the “alarming increase” in the number of armed bodyguards seems to signal a fall into lawlessness like that of the Wild West with the council’s leaders surrounded by “hired guns”.

Mayor Bongani Dlamini has three bodyguards and a driver, Stokes said. One of them carries an automatic assault rifle and a 9 mm pistol. Deputy Mayor Bheki Dlamini has four bodyguards, and council speaker Cesar Nunes and municipal manager Nonhanhla Njoko each have two.

Bodyguards’ salaries vary between R10 500 and R12 500 and the DA has been informed by the municipal manager that the salaries are to be adjusted to between R15 000 and R17 500, said Stokes.

IFP executive committee member councillor Mziwandile Majola alleged that the automatic rifles carried by the bodyguards do not belong to the municipality. He said the bodyguards were brought in because some of the ANC and NFP councillors have business dealings in the taxi industry.

He claimed that the mayor runs traffic lights with his blue lights flashing even when he is not rushing to meetings.

Dlamini angrily denied using blue lights and hit back at Stokes’s allegations about the council bodyguards, saying the party should raise matters of concern in council. He said proper processes were followed to appoint the bodyguards.

Njoko was unavailable for comment.

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