City approves R2m for VIP security attire
Durban - eThekwini Municipality ratepayers will fork out more than R2 million in clothing allowances for VIP protectors in the city’s security management.
The request was approved by the city’s executive committee on Wednesday and will now have to get the green light of the full council before it is implemented. A report by the city’s security management unit requested R2047064 in clothing allowances for the purchase of formal wear for 109 VIP protectors .
The request was for R478064 in funds for the current 2019/20 financial year and a further R1569000 for the 2020/21 financial year. Currently, only 14 protectors receive a clothing allowance of R805.92 a month.
“The VIP protectors perform functions relating to the protection and transportation of officials, office bearers, councillors and dignitaries to functions, events and other high-profile occasions.
“As such, they need to be attired in an appropriate manner. VIP protectors are generally dressed up in suits which are regarded as being the appropriate apparel,” the report read.
Of the unit’s 153 VIP protectors, 109 were directly involved in bodyguard duties, for which the formal wear was required, according to the report. It said the unit had undertaken a benchmarking study which found other municipalities were paying higher clothing allowances than eThekwini Municipality.
“The City of Tshwane pays a clothing allowance of R13000 per annum which equates to R108333 per month, with an escalation on the allowance applied annually. The City of Johannesburg provides a clothing allowance of R1000 per month, together with an annual increment,” the report read.
The unit proposed in the report that the allowance be raised to R1200 a month. He noted that management was concerned that it was discriminatory to provide the clothing allowance only to a small percentage of the total number of VIP protectors.
“(It) has the potential for the referral of an unfair labour practice dispute to the South African Local Bargaining Council, in terms of the Labour Relations Act,” the report read.
“The fact that 14 VIP protectors are receiving a clothing allowance, while the other 95 are denied this allowance makes it necessary that this matter be regularised, so that the same benefit is extended to all VIP protectors.”
Four councillors voted in favour of the request. DA councillors opposed it.
The DA’s Thabani Mthethwa said the city was facing “unprecedented circumstances” with service-delivery challenges, and the provision of a clothing allowance could not be justified.
“We are living under unprecedented circumstances. It takes longer than necessary for street lights and grass cutting to be attended to, and for that reason we don’t feel that this is a priority in service delivery. We must therefore get our priorities right. This is an insult to an ordinary man on the street who expects their parks to be taken care of and their pipes to be fixed,” Mthethwa said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi questioned how the city would monitor the spending of allowances.
“There is the possibility that these people can have this money but not spend it on clothing,” he said.
However, ANC councillor Vusi Mazibuko said the request was consistent with practices in local government.
“In terms of the cost proposed, they are consistent with what municipalities are doing in other metros. There are many employees in this municipality that get allowances in respect to the nature of their jobs,” Mazibuko said.