Poor municipality's million-rand man
Athandiwe Saba, City Press
Johannesburg - The political adviser for one of the country's poorest municipalities earns R1m a year, but nobody, including the man himself, can explain what his job entails.
Zama Mzamane is the political adviser to Mayor Dingaan Myolwa in the OR Tambo District Municipality in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape.
National Treasury salary data show that Mzamane earns a total package of R1 180 860 a year.
He is also a rare breed. In nearly 7 000 records of senior council jobs and pay from the Treasury, Mzamane is the only “political adviser” listed.
OR Tambo includes seven local municipalities in an area with a population of 1.5 million people.
The municipality is considered by the Treasury to have been “financially dysfunctional” over the past two financial years and received an adverse audit opinion for 2010/11.
City Press contacted Mzamane several times to ask him what he did and for further details of his salary package.
But he refused to comment and demanded instead that City Press’s report should reveal similar details in return. “Send me the questions and also state how much you earn and what your job is,” he said.
When told that as a public official he was obliged to answer questions relating to his position, he disconnected the call.
“Stop pestering me. Leave me alone, you child,” he said in a follow-up call. He then refused again to answer questions.
Mzamane is a former OR Tambo council chief whip and currently a local ANC executive committee member.
The council’s last annual report shows that his package includes a R70 000 a year car allowance and a R2 000 a month cellphone allowance.
His salary package is slightly less than OR Tambo’s municipal manager, who earns R1 265 760 a year.
He earns more than the director of legal services (R1 068 150), the head of the internal audit (R1 064 900) and other senior positions.
A call to council speaker Nomakhosazana Meth about Mzamane’s position was answered with loud laughter.
“No, I don’t know what his position entails either. Maybe you should ask him.” She referred all questions to Mzamane.
Mayor Myolwa asked that questions be sent to him using Mzamane’s e-mail address, but when contacted, he claimed not to have received them.
The United Democratic Movement’s chief whip in OR Tambo, Vuyani Dangala, said: “This is a crisis. We don’t understand why there should be such a position.
“This is a duplication of duties, as the municipal manager should be the one advising the mayor on issues of the municipality or any other guidance the mayor might need.”