Ezemvelo travel splurge

2013-02-11 00:00

THE remuneration received by some board members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for travelling and attending meetings has raised the eyebrows of KwaZulu-Natal parliamentarians.

The travel claims were found to be “scary” and riddled with discrepancies by the joint sitting of the standing committees on public accounts and the finance committee last Thursday.

This emerged when the conservation agency tabled its report showing that it spent a whopping R864 586 for its 16 board members in the 2011/12 financial year.

Of the R864 586 paid, R663 276 was remuneration to attend board meetings and R201 310 for travel claims. In the 2011/12 financial year, board members were paid R3 034 to attend meetings and the chairperson R3 792, while the chair of the audit committee earned R4 858 and his colleagues R3 884 for each sitting.

The report showed three board members were remunerated between R118 891 and R102 273.

Between these members, they claimed between R30 078 and R61 248 for travelling. Other members received remuneration that ranged between R77 103 and R9 398 for attending meetings and travel claims.

Finance committee chairperson Belinda Scott said it was outrageous that the board members raked up to R118 000. “These figures are scary,” Scott said. “I have no personal issues against them [that they] can earn up to R118 000 in one year,” Scott said.

Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize said the remuneration was according to prescribed rates for travelling and attending board meetings. “There are also urgent issues that have to be attended to by the board and those vary from time to time,” he said.

Mkhize offered to give the committee a detailed report showing the meetings that had been attended by the board members to see how the amounts paid were arrived at.

Scott said the committee had previously asked the office of the Premier and Provincial Treasury to review the remuneration of all boards in the province and also come up with amounts to be paid to the board members.

“It definitely seems it’s a cash cow for some individuals,” she said.

The committee was told about Treasury’s proposal to pay a “retainer fee” which will see board members being paid R3 033 and chairpersons R3 792 from April.

For members of audit committees it would be R3 884 and their chairpersons R4 854.

Members residing in a 90 kilometre radius from the agency offices will be expected to be paid travel claims for a maximum of three hours travelling time.

Scott decried that board members were paid the full standard rate to attend meetings.

“Sometimes a meeting could last an hour or full day. If you have standard full rates, it does not seem to make financial management sense [because] you could be there for a short period of time,” she said.

Scott also said Ezemvelo’s board should consider holding its board and committee meetings on the same day to reduce travel costs.

“We are looking at an organisation that is cash strapped,” she said, adding that R1 million expenditure a year on people attending board meetings was a lot of money.

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