Splurging on guards

2014-08-02 00:00

UMNGENI councillors are unhappy with the deal that sees their mayor, Mbali Myeni, get two bodyguards at the cost of R488 800 over 12 months.

Both DA and ANC councillors were oblivious of the deal. The contract had been signed with Durban VIP protection company Zenzele Security using the emergency deviation in the supply chain regulations. It was brought before council on Thursday as part of the supply chain management report.

The contract had been concluded barely weeks after KZN Co-operative Governance Department (Cogta) warned against abuse of the emergency deviation. Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said her department would be cracking the whip on the excessive use of the deviation to avoid going to tender.

The auditor-general’s latest report is also critical of the unnecessary use of emergency regulations. The councillors called for a report on how the deal was struck and what happened to the mayor’s previous bodyguards.

DA caucus leader Pam Passmoor could not understand why the mayor currently needed bodyguards. “We agreed that during the strike her security was compromised and emergency regulations could have been used then. However, the past two months have been quiet.

“There should have been a risk assessment carried out with the appointment of the bodyguards going to tender” she said.

The DA in KZN recently announced that it had launched an inquiry into the sums of money being spent by municipalities on bodyguards. This was after it was revealed that the eThekwini Municipality was racking up a monthly bodyguard bill of over R2 million for councillors.

Passmoor said that at present the uMngeni Municipality was paying R199 000 a month to fix the many potholes in the town. “The money being paid for the bodyguards would have helped us fix two-and-a-half months worth of potholes,” she said.

Council spokesperson Thando Mgaga said the mayor being allocated bodyguards was nothing new.

Mgaga said the council took a decision in July 2011 for the mayor to be allocated bodyguards after council felt that a threat analysis conducted at the time necessitated VIP protection for the mayor.

The council also recommended that a situational threat assessment be conducted on the mayor every six months to ascertain her safety.

He said the contracts of the previous bodyguards ended in March this year. Another threat assessment was soon conducted which recommended that the mayor had security. Mgaga said the bodyguards had been contracted since May from a credible VIP protection company.

He added that municipal senior officials had advised using emergency regulations as, “the mayor would have been exposed to potential threats as per the assessment’s recommendations”.

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