Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says government discussions on the payment of R1.4 billion owed to izinduna (headmen) has not yielded results.

The minister maintained this in a written response to a parliamentary question by IFP MP Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli, who asked about a progress report regarding backdated payment of salaries of izinduna.

In 2016, the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Office Bearers recommended that the annual salaries of izinduna be R96460, up from R91000. The commission in question focuses on the remuneration and conditions of service of the president and his cabinet, MPs, MPLs, judges, councillors and traditional leaders.

Izinduna in KwaZulu-Natal were only paid R1500 monthly stipends after they protested and threatened to disrupt municipal elections in 2016.

KZN complained in June 2018 to the National Council of Provinces about footing the bill for functions that were not funded by the national government.

In her response, Dlamini-Zuma said the executive council of KZN determined that the provincial government should start remunerating izinduna in December 2016 in line with the 2014 Presidential proclamation.

She said it approved that the provincial Cogta fund 50% of the total cost, a move that led to the department reprioritising R126.164million and R140.424m for the medium-term expenditure framework towards the payment of the headmen, and that the balance of 50% be cut proportionately from other departments .

“The KZN executive council further resolved that there should be a discussion on the financial challenges faced by the Department of Cogta, and this matter be referred to the minister’s committee on the budget,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

She also said various engagements had taken place between the KZN provincial Treasury and Cogta, as well as with National Treasury, the presidency and national Cogta.

Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu, the chairperson of National House of Traditional Leaders, said they had been pushing the government to pay up what it ought to pay to izinduna.

“The big issue has been financial constraints, but what surprises us is that before a determination is made by the commission, premiers are engaged to check the ability of provinces to fulfil their obligations. We have not heard that KZN objected to the proposal and recommendation,” Mahlangu said.

He also said the traditional leaders found the non-payment of izinduna a problem, especially when a determination had been made and it was now law.

“For all other public office-bearers, there are no complaints about their payment, but when it comes to traditional leaders, you hear the issues of budget and shortage of money. The government should just pay because if it does not, it is breaking the law.”

Mahlangu also said they were concerned with the government’s failure to fulfil other determinations for traditional leaders, such as pensions.

He said the non-payment of izinduna was a political matter.