No money for izinduna

2018-03-22 13:30
KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott.

KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott. (File)

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A R1,2 billion bill for back pay owed to KwaZulu-Natal’s izinduna — thanks to a decision taken by former president Jacob Zuma — will haunt the province for years to come.

Aside from the back pay issue the province is also battling to come up with the funds needed to pay izinduna’s ongoing remuneration.

There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel as to when the province will be able to settle the bill.

This emerged on Tuesday when KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott told a finance portfolio committee meeting that the province’s contingency reserves cannot absorb the huge bill.

The back pay has accumulated from 2014 when Zuma signed a proclamation that said izinduna should be remunerated.

Scott said the province now also still needs to discuss how to pay izinduna salaries going forward.

The province only started paying the izinduna in the 2017/18 financial year.

At that time various provincial government department budgets were cut in order to foot the R252,3 million salary bill, which did not cover back pay.

The arrangement, which sees the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) footing 50% of the bill while other departments contribute 10% each, comes to an end in the 2019/20 financial year.

Asked by DA MPL Francois Rodgers whether the back pay had been included in last week’s R122 billion budget, Scott said the province did not have the money to foot the bill.

“The izinduna salaries continue to be a serious issue.

“What makes it difficult now is that izinduna also want [to be provided with] tools of trade and other perks such as medical aid.”

Scott said the province would continue to knock on the door of National Treasury to ask that they foot the bill.

KZN Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) provincial secretary Inkosi Nhlakanipho Maphumulo said Cogta had been invited to provide an update on the payment of back pay during Contralesa KZN’s provincial executive committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

He indicated that they may be open to an arrangement for province to pay off the back pay over time.

“We understand that there is a financial crisis in the province and that they had to cut from other departments in order to accommodate the payments.

“We are of the view that we should not add another burden to the provincial government with the back pay. They should pay as and when the money is available. Even if it means the money should be paid in batches,” said Maphumulo.

Meanwhile, Human Settlements portfolio committee chairperson Important Mkhize said at the meeting that provincial government would rue its decision to cut the human settlements development grant by R578 million in the coming financial year.

“We are going into an election year. As political parties, when we do door- to-door campaigns, the top demand from people that we interact with is housing,” he said.

Scott said although the cut in that budget was huge, the money would be channelled to the title deeds restoration grant.

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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