DURBAN - OPPOSITION parties in eThekwini Municipality have questioned the wisdom behind the proposal to spend half a million rand to dress VIP protectors, with some saying such spending is a luxury that the city could do without.
The reaction came after acting city manager Musa Mbhele tabled the item at Tuesday’s executive committee (exco) meeting where parties gave their input on the matter.
While some welcomed the need for bodyguards’ gear, questions were asked about the high bill attached to the items.
A report, sent for the attention of exco and dated August 2021 from the Security Management Unit, requested additional funding for the 31 VIP protectors, who according to the report were not included in the report adopted in March 2020.
According to the report, the request for additional funding was needed to:
Provide a clothing allowance to all incumbents filling consequential vacancies in the VIP protection branch.
Provide clothing allowance for all new recruitment supplementing the VIP protectors upon finalisation of the restructuring process, subject to obtaining the necessary funding.
To provide a clothing allowance to VIP protectors who had been seconded to other branches, for operational reasons, and who have been subsequently recalled to the VIP protection branch, subject to the procurement of funding.
According to the report, the Security Management Unit made a submission to exco seeking funding for the provision of a clothing allowance for the VIP protectors branch back in January 2020 for the financial year 2020/21 and authority was granted for the provision of clothing allowance for the 14 VIP protectors, who were already in receipt of a clothing allowance, to be increased.
In addition to this, further authority was granted for the provision of funding for additional 95 VIP protectors, who were already providing close body protection, but who were not in receipt of any clothing allowance.
The report further indicated that VIP protectors who have since been trained, competent and were providing close body protection to officials, office bearers and councillors of the municipality had joined the unit and they needed to be considered for the allowance on the grounds of equity.
EFF exco member Thabani Miya questioned the “exhorbitant” amount for clothing items.
“Are they wearing Louis Vuitton? Half a million is too much for clothing items,” the exco member contested.
The DA’s Nicole Graham was equally critical of the allocation.
“We must be able to distinguish between things that we need and those that we can do without and this item is unnecessary,” she said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi called for the amount to be lowered.
According to the ANC, aside from providing protection, VIP protectors needed to be properly dressed as their principals were normally well-dressed when carrying out official duties.
The item is set for discussion at the next full council meeting.