Provision of bodyguards without threat analysis to all mayors and speakers, R3 400 monthly cellphone allowance for all councillors, reintroduction of mayoral residences as a housing benefit, usage of council cars by councillors and procurement of laptops for all part-time councillors.
These are some of the perks The Star is reporting cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Des van Rooyen has approved as ‘tools of trade’ after negotiations with South African Local Government Association (Salga).
According to a circular the publication reported it has seen, addressed to all municipalities around the country, Salga is said to ‘brag’ about successfully lobbying for the perks. They include the provision of uncapped number of bodyguards to councillors after a threat analysis assessment has been conducted into their safety.
Further perks include a ‘sitting allowance’ for district municipality councillors at R1 020 per day on top of their salaries and providing tablets as an alternative to laptops.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) is arguing if municipalities can afford to splash out on these perks, they can surely afford the demanded 15% wage increase as well as R10 000 minimum wage by July 2018.
According to The Star, councillors have risk insurance taken by municipalities of R1.5-million for their houses and R750 000 for their cars, while they also have life and disability insurance cover that is twice their annaul salaries.
The organisation is reported as describing the improved perks as “defying logic” and are demanding they be rescinded as they will be costly and also hoping municipalities across the country will refuse to implement them.
“Council will be wasting resources, it defies logic…Everyone now qualifies to get bodyguards. We urge councils with the interests of communities at heart not to implement them,” spokeperson Papikie Mohale is quoted.
Mohale also criticised van Rooyen as being irresponsible and cautioned the provision of bodyguards will make councillors “inaccessible to their communities.” He also questioned the need for increasing cellphone allowance as councillors are notorious for not returning phone calls when affected residents report service delivery problems.
The publication reported that van Rooyen said he had consulted all nine provincial cooperative governance MECs before approving the perks. Salga boss Lance Joel and leaders of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) were reportedly not available for comment.