R250m payouts for former councillors
Alicestine October, Die Burger
Cape Town - Taxpayers will be coughing up about R250m for former councillors who were not re-elected in last year’s local government elections.
This despite research by Municipal IQ, an independent online information service on local government, showing that between 2006 and 2010 there were 277 protest marches against bad service delivery.
Mbulelo Musi, spokesperson for the co-operative governance and traditional affairs department, said the money will be used to compensate former councillors who had served their full five-year terms for their “hard work under extremely difficult circumstances”.
“The payments are in recognition of the great contribution to service delivery made by former councillors to improve people’s lives.”
He said about 5 000 councillors from all political parties from all over the country will qualify.
Musi said the department, the Seriti commission for the remuneration of public office-bearers, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) and the national treasury had taken a joint decision on this.
The treasury has budgeted R256m for this purpose.
Musi would not say whether the payment, which equates to three months’ pensionable salary, will be performance-related.
“The commission did not say anything about performance, but we foresee no problems in this regard.”
Municipal trade union Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema said they oppose the payments.
“It is a waste of money that could be spent on service delivery. It would be better at least to link it to councillors’ performance. If they had performed well, there would not have been any protests about service delivery, would there? How does one compensate such people?”
Derek Luyt, an analyst with the Public Service Accountability Monitor, also said the money could be better spent elsewhere.
“I can find no justification for something that was not budgeted for and with which aggrieved councillors are now being pacified.”
Luyt said this set a dangerous precedent. “They should get nothing. This represents everything that is wrong with our political system, where office-holders see their work as just one more way of making money.”