‘Houses are not for amakhosi’

2010-01-21 00:00

UMNGENI Mayor Edward Dladla, who had to vacate his council-bought house and was made to repay funds, may find himself back in his mayoral residence.

But this depends firstly on the outcome of a debate that took place in a standing committee of public accounts (Scopa) meeting in the KZN Legislature yesterday and secondly on which legal opinion prevails.

The debate arose from a discussion about the Auditor-General’s report on the Local Government and Traditional Affairs Department.

The department received an unqualified report, but there was an emphasis of matter on the irregular transfer of R21 million to the Housing Department. It turned out the money was for the provision of housing for amakhosi in the province.

This was when the chairperson of the finance committee, Belinda Scott, raised the issue of Dladla’s house. She said she believes the provision of housing to the amakhosi violates the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act and this benefit can accrue to them only if there is a ruling on the matter by the president.

“It was on the basis of this legislation that the uMngeni Mayor had to vacate his property. We had legal opinion on this matter, which said that under the legislation he was not entitled to live in the house. Local Government can’t build houses for the amakhosi until there is a presidential proclamation on the matter,” said Scott.

She added that the Local Government Department had argued that the houses do not belong to amakhosi but to the community. She said that, similarly, Dladla’s house is not in his name, but belongs to the municipality. This is irrelevant as amakhosi are still living in the houses and accruing a benefit, said Scott.

She said she is not against amakhosi getting houses, but that in terms of the legislation the matter is irregular.

“If we evicted the uMngeni mayor on the basis of this legislation, then we have no choice but to do the same with amakhosi.”

Scott said this was why it is incumbent on the department to get a ruling from the president on the provision of housing. “I really feel this matter can be sorted out with a presidential proclamation, but it will have repercussions as houses will have to be provided for amakhosi throughout the country and not only in KZN.”

MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Nomsa Dube holds a different view and does not believe that a presidential proclamation will be neccessary. She believes that it is a technical issue that may eventually be sorted out through the KZN Traditional Leadership and Governance Act.

Dube said she welcomes the engagement on the matter and has asked the legislature for a copy of the legal opinion referred to by Scott. Her department is examining all the technicalities around the issue and is keeping an open mind. She said at this stage her department has a different interpretation and is viewing the matter in the light of cabinet resolutions and issues around traditional leadership.

“We are going to look at all the legal responses on the matter and I believe it might not be necessary to go the presidential proclamation route …” Dube said.







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