Bodyguard brouhaha

2018-03-07 13:30
Msunduzi Municipality deputy Mayor Thobani Zume.

Msunduzi Municipality deputy Mayor Thobani Zume. (File)

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How many bodyguards does the city employ and what is this costing?

This was the subject of a heated exchange between Msunduzi ANC councillors and opposition parties which erupted on Tuesday when the opposition asked for a detailed report on the City’s spend on bodyguards at yesterday’s full council meeting.

During the discussion of the matters arising from last month’s council meeting, the ACDP’s Rienus Niemand asked if a promised report on bodyguards had been prepared.

“You will recall that we wanted to know what the law allows in terms of the number of bodyguards, what the costs are — as in what we are paying at the moment — and how many bodyguards each office bearer and official has,” he said.

Last month a circular from the head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Thando Tubane, regarding bodyguards was tabled during the council meeting. In it, he said that mayors, speakers and councillors are now limited to no more than two bodyguards and that is also subject to a threat analysis report from the police.

That meeting resolved that a report detailing the functioning of the security committee and the cost of security provided to councillors should be submitted at Tuesday’s meeting, but that did not happen.

Deputy mayor Thobani Zuma said Nie­mand’s inquiry on the outstanding report made him uncomfortable.

“I know that he [Niemand] is not my friend but he is my councillor. I don’t think it is going to be well to disclose our security. Because in these days the situation is not okay, if a person is raising security issues, I’m going to suspect him,” he said.

The DA’s Ross Strachan said Zuma’s comment was confusing because council has to approve the municipality’s spend on personal security and they cannot do that if they do not know the figures.

His sentiments were echoed by Sibongiseni Majola who said the council is responsible for the City’s budget where the allocation of bodyguards will have to be made. He said they understand the confidentiality of the matter but they still want to see it.

“In terms of approving the procedure of approving bodyguards, it has to come from the SAPS’s intelligence unit recommending to this council to approve what I think the deputy mayor is saying in terms of threats,” he said.

Niemand said during the last meeting Zuma threatened him and yesterday he called him a perpetrator. He said Zuma must rest assured that he poses no threat to him but just wants the truth.

“We need to understand what we are dealing with.” He said there were about 40 political killings in the last year and a half.

“It’s also a fact that an overwhelming majority of those were [related to] an internal ANC problem. That’s a fact, but you can deny it as much as you like,” he said.

At that, the ANC councillors demanded that Niemand withdrew his comment saying he has not investigated the political killings so he should not jump to conclusions.

“Councillor Niemand is neither a police officer nor a prophet to come to this council and make such conclusions about the state of killings that have taken place in the province. It is unwarranted and out of order,” said the ANC’s Ntuthuko Ntshangase.

Niemand withdrew his comment on the allegations regarding the ANC killings but emphasised that he still wanted the report on the personal security.

ANC councillor Innocent Madondo said the issue of the security of councillors was sensitive and they rely on the police to advise them based on the threat analysis.

“We will not be told by the likes of Niemand how many people should guard us,” he said.

City manager Sizwe Hadebe denied that a resolution was ever made for the report on the matter to come before the council meeting.

ANC councillor Nkosanathi Gambu said he also had no recollection of the said resolution.

“But it’s here in black and white that there was a resolution so he must just admit that he did not do the report as it was resolved in the meeting,” said the DA’s Bongumusa Nhlabathi.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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