No hikes for councillors

2019-05-02 08:38

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Opposition councillors in the ailing Msunduzi Council have decried a decision by the KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube not to increase their pay — for the third year in a row.

While councillors across the country are set to receive salary increments in terms of the determined upper limits of the salaries, allowances and benefits, as per a notice published in the Government Gazette last December, Dube-Ncube once again did not approve increases for Msunduzi.

In a letter dated March 2019, which is set to be presented before council, Dube-Ncube explains that her decision not to approve Msunduzi council’s application for councillors’ remuneration to be increased, is a consequence of the adverse audit opinion for the 2017/18 financial year.

Msunduzi had made the submissions to Cogta following a council resolution in January.

Dube Ncube said councillors would retain the remuneration packages which she had approved for the 2016/17 financial year.

The decision comes after Msunduzi was placed under administration earlier this month for a host of issues, including irregular expenditure, maladministration and absenteeism by councillors.

The Witness previously reported that according to the auditor-general’s report, Msunduzi had many material misstatements in its financial statement that contradicted amounts and disclosures in the financial statements.

The AG’s report said the leadership did not ensure that effective measures were taken to address previous findings and to support the achievement of credible reporting and compliance with legislative requirements.

Despite not allowing a pay increase, Dube-Ncube did approve the request for councillors to be provided with the “tools of trade” allowances, for cell phones, mobile data, and special risk insurance, which forms part of their total remuneration package.

With regards to overpayments that may have been made to some councillors, Dube-Ncube said the municipal manager must recover the money.

“The accounting officer is encouraged to continue with such recovery action despite my not approving of the level of payment for the municipal councillors,” she said.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said the decision by Dube-Ncube was unfair on the opposition caucuses.

“It’s a pity that the decision binds even the people who have been warning and advising officials not to mismanage the funds of the municipality,” Majola said.

He said it was unacceptable that for three consecutive years councillors of the opposition will not be receiving an increment.

“We are faced with financial challenges such as petrol hikes, food hikes, rates increase but we are still receiving the 2016 allowance. How can you expect councillors to cope under these demanding economic times?”

Majola said only those responsible should suffer the consequences of their decisions.

IFP caucus leader Thinasonke Ntombela agreed with Majola.

“These are not performance bonuses, we are entitled to this increment. It was budgeted for, she can’t say councillors won’t get it,” Ntombela said.

Ntombela said they cannot be penalised for mistakes made by officials.

“Cogta is the one that seconded ... the suspended municipal manager. It was the ANC that took uninformed decisions. Why is the MEC fighting with the opposition councillors?” he said.

Rienus Niemand of the ACDP said they fully supported Cogta’s position.

“Our stance is that the entire council should be dissolved. We are in a total state of collapse.

“The MEC cannot keep her political allies employed at the expense of the ratepayers,” Niemand said.

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