R309 million budgeted as a once-off gratuity to non-returning councillors

2016-08-24 06:00

GOLDEN handshakes for Msunduzi councillors, who have not cracked the nod to be included in the new council, will cost taxpayers close to R2 million.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has confirmed it has budgeted R309 million as a once-off gratuity to non-returning councillors.

The payment is based on the calculation of three months of the last salary they earned.

In Msunduzi, 22 of the 37 ward councillors, who had served in the previous term, will not see another five years in office.

While a handful have resigned, most are heading into the political wilderness after they failed to secure their future at their party’s nomination process.

The ANC accounts for most changes as it is bringing 17 new faces to the council, while the DA has six new people for council chambers.

On 29 August, 2011, the
Independent Commission for the Remuneration­ of Public Office Bearers­ recommended that
qualifying non-returning councillors, who had served a full
term of office and did not return, should be paid a once-off gratuity equal to three months’ pensionable salary.

Cogta said most councillors do not have other formal employment.

Consequently, some councillors were unable to service their debts, meet their basic financial living requirements, or pay school fees for their children, and some stand to lose their property after leaving office.

“This is to allow such councillors breathing space to solicit
other remunerative employment,” the department said in a statement.

The amounts to be paid will only be finalised once municipal councils have been constituted - Msunduzi council is expected to be constituted this week.

“Regardless of the number of councillors not returning to office, the department will have to stay within the budgeted R309 million,” the department said.

In 2011, more than 4 000 individual­ applications were submitted and screened.

A total of R139,3 million was paid to former councillors who served from 2006 to 2011.

“The payment of this gratuity was done in an open and a transparent manner, hence this process received no audit queries.”

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