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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane on Monday confirmed that its metro police department had escorted President Jacob Zuma out of the province for an ANC election campaign last week.
"Yes, we can confirm that... but we are denying the amount stated," said Tshwane municipality spokesman Blessing Manale.
"And we don't think we should disclose the operational cost."
The Sunday Independent reported that the Tshwane metro police department (TMPD) approved R500 000 to escort Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe to Mpumalanga for the party's campaign despite not having enough funds to foot the bill.
It reported that money was allegedly used from the unit's subsistence and travelling budget to pay for accommodation over nine days.
The request for the escort allegedly came from the police's presidential protection service.
The team departed on January 3 and stayed for the week until January 12, when Zuma returned to Gauteng.
Manale said the issue over it being out of the province was not important.
"It's about the SA Police Service VIP unit asking for the escort. It's immaterial whether it was out of the province."
In a more detailed statement, the city congratulated the metro police for participating in the "authorised" security operation for Zuma and Motlanthe.
“We take pride that our metro police department continues to be exposed to real-life security and a public order policing environment as a result of their participation in various operations," said Tshwane city manager Jason Ngobeni.
"We remain cognisant that it is the mandate of the SAPS to provide protection for the president, deputy president and all ministers... including during their public engagement in their party political work."
The city said Ngobeni approved the escort and expenditure for the requested services and allowed the use of vehicles and the carrying of firearms to Mbombela.
Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the city would continue to support various institutions through their requests for services.
“And we will consider requests for partnership and support from other entities in the future," he said.
"It is an ethos and a responsibility which no opposition party can take away from modern government.”
The Democratic Alliance said the Tshwane metro police had to answer to its residents.
"At the end of the day, residents of Tshwane are the losers as officers and money were taken away from Tshwane where a service should have been rendered to its own residents as far as safety is concerned," said DA councillor Karen Meyer in a statement.
"This is not good public administration. We cannot allow government, not even a state president, to direct money away from the basic needs of a city to be used outside that city for its own luxurious extravaganzas."
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said all matters relating to security were handled by the police.
"It's not a matter we handle."