KwaZulu-Natal’s eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality has managed to spend R70 million in just three months on protecting councillors, prompting the DA to lambast the ANC-run municipality.
This followed eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s revelation on Monday that the metro had spent R70 million between July and August this year on protecting councillors who are supposedly facing threats on their lives.
Kaunda, speaking at an ANC elections event in Durban, said the municipality was offering security to its councillors due to the delays from the South African Police Service (Saps) in conducting security threat assessments.
“You can’t have a municipality that folds its hands. For the period from July to September, we have spent about R70 million in that quarter alone. So that shows the mandate of investing when it comes to security,” he said.
The mayor did not mention the exact number of councillors being provided with bodyguards, but the DA claims it is mostly ANC councillors.
The DA’s eThekwini caucus leader, Nicole Graham, said her party was “starkly opposed to the exorbitant spending” on the security of councillors.
She said the millions spent on protecting councillors equated to a staggering R280 million per year spent by the municipality.
“It is unlikely that this cost includes the excessive overtime that is being claimed and abused at [the] metro police [department]. Much of this overtime is attributed to the escorting and protecting of councillors,” Graham said in a statement.
Graham raised concerns that the capacity challenges with Saps conducting security threat assessments meant that most councillors were being allocated expensive security details with no proven threat against them.
She said while the ANC continued to prioritise the security of politicians, communities in eThekwini were being left to fend for themselves because metro police were being diverted to protect councillors.
“The reality is that what is often termed ‘political violence’ is a direct result of ANC factionalism and infighting. In essence, ratepayers are paying to protect ANC politicians from enemies within their own ranks. This is unsustainable and frankly not the public’s problem,” Graham said.
She added that the DA at national level had repeatedly called for the slashing of the VIP protection and security services budget, which currently stood at over R3 billion per year.
“Ordinary citizens are left defenceless in the face of hopeless policing whilst ANC politicians are ferried in blue-light brigades and have their umbrellas held for them.
“eThekwini’s public purse cannot afford this reckless spending. The ANC must solve their own internal issues themselves and leave the rest of us out of it. Critically, risk and threat assessments must be properly conducted and the reduction of this spending must happen urgently.”
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe
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