“We don’t have money to give to the Solidarity Fund.”
That was the unanimous view of Msunduzi’s council on Wednesday on receiving a circular from the South African Local Government Association (Salga) calling on councillors to make contributions to the Solidarity Fund.
“Councillors should pledge to contribute four percent annual increment for three months,” said Salga’s KZN director Sabelo Gwala.
Msunduzi councillors said they would not be making any contribution as they had not received any increments since their term started in 2016.
Apparently this came after the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZN Cogta) decided to withhold increments as a punishment for poor audit outcomes.
The ANC’s councillor Sphamandla Khumalo said Salga must leave Msunduzi out because they never received any increase to begin with. “In fact we should be receiving money from the Solidarity Fund because we’re so broke.”
Sandile Dlamini (ANC) said, “We are barely making ends meet as we speak because everything else is going up, but our salaries have not increased so we have no money to give to anyone”.
AIC’s Nomalady Dleya said “Our case is not normal. Why are we being punished as councillors? It’s unfortunate that as councillors we don’t have a union to fight for us.”
There was a debate on whether council should approach MEC for Cogta Sipho Hlomuka and ask him to consider giving them an increase this year, so that they could also contribute to the Solidarity Fund like other municipalities.
However, they eventually decided that if they were to get increases they would want to keep that money for themselves because they were also struggling financially.
“With my very low salary I don’t think I can contribute,” said Mohamed Salim Goga of Al Jama-Ah.
ACDP’s Rienus Niemand said the issue of salary increases was a sore point but Cogta was not going to reward poor performance. He said the contribution to the Solidarity Fund should not be forced on anyone.
Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla agreed with him, saying it was an individual choice, not just for councillors but also City employees and other stakeholders.
Council eventually agreed that there would be no establishment of a municipal solidarity fund.