Councillors want protest insurance
Johannesburg - The country’s 10 055 councillors want insurance at government’s expense to cover themselves and their properties against violent service delivery protests.
The SA Local Government Association (Salga), the representative organisation of municipalities, has asked national government to take “dramatic action to prevent loss of life and damage caused by disgruntled communities”.
“Councillors should be entitled to, at the cost of municipalities or the state, risk benefits including but not limited to death cover, disability benefits, funeral benefits and cover for assets lost or damaged as a direct result of public violence,” reads a Salga letter to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi.
In the letter, which City Press has seen, Salga chairperson and Mangaung Mayor Thabo Manyoni says councillors are the face of government on the ground and are continuously forced to flee their homes because of violence and criminal behaviour during service delivery protests.
Manyoni says current laws do not protect councillors and they have no automatic recourse for damages unless they lodge damages claims against their municipalities.
The plan might prove costly if implemented across the board instead of only for councillors in service delivery hotspots, according to a municipal manager.
“Some councillors have more than one property while others live in expensive suburbs,” says the municipal manager, who has asked not to be identified.
Manyoni has three properties, including one in Harrismith, while his Midvaal counterpart, Timothy Nast, owns a property in Henley-on-Klip, two in Vereeniging and one in Durban.
Manyoni’s Salga colleagues, Gauteng chairperson and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau has properties in Berea and two in Winchester Hills, while Western Cape chairperson Demetri Qually lives in Marina da Gama, where houses range between R800 000 and R4m.
Cape Town's mayor, Patricia de Lille, owns a R2m house in Pinelands.
As local government debt is increasing and finances are depleted, councillors now want to be paid by the national Treasury instead of municipalities from April.
Last week, Treasury revealed that 66 of the country’s 283 municipalities are in “financial distress” and another 37 “on the borderline of being identified as being in financial distress”. Municipalities are owed R75bn by businesses, government and households.
Councillors also want their benefits to be benchmarked against those of members of provincial legislatures, who earn between R820 000 and R1.5m.
Salga has asked Baloyi for an upward adjustment of cellphone allowances for part-time councillors, who currently do not receive this perk.
Councillors are paid monthly phone allowances of between R1 000 and R3 200.