eThekwini R1.7m staff party is global best practice, according to ANC

ANC KZN provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo said although the municipality had issues, not all staff were responsible for these, and they should be rewarded

eThekwini R1.7m staff party is global best practice, according to ANC

eThekwini Municipality is following global best practice in rewarding staff by hosting its controversial R1,740 000 million City Stars Awards Ceremony at the Durban International Convention Centre next month.

And the city may be justified if it invoked rule 36 of the Municipal Finance Management Act to pay hundreds of millions of rands for its Revenue Management System (RMS) – that it already replaced at a cost of R1,2 billion several years ago.  

This was the view of ANC provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo speaking during a press conference in Durban on Tuesday.

Mtolo said when it came to “the hot stuff” regarding eThekwini Municipality, referring to the R1,740 million spent on a staff awards party, the city was merely following global best practice.

“This is a global phenomenon to say you honour those that have done excellent services,” he said.

He said although a municipality might have faults such as potholes, not all staff were responsible for these, as there could be for example, an “excellent” head of Metro Police or a top official in the finance department who exceeded a target of 66% to collect 90% of revenue. 

“He has done his job, he was given his task to do … he has excelled,” he said.

“The municipality has 30 000 workers and it did its research and found this was done all over the world as the best method to reward well performing employees and to make others want to be the ones (who are rewarded) the following year. It makes the labour force want to compete,” he said.

However, Mtolo added that what should be inspected is the costs involved in hosting the event.

“What we should be discussing here is not the programme, it’s the cost of the programme. If lunch or dinner is R4500 then we must be asking what kind of lunch is it? It is not a wrong thing to hold a staff day for the staff because every company around the world does it,” he said.

This comes after DA eThekwini councillor Sakhile Mngadi earlier raised the alarm saying the ANC had blown R106 million on 36 parties of similar nature over the past two years while the municipality was collapsing.

Said Mngadi: “The beneficiaries of this lavish bash in recognition of their ‘hard work’  will be receiving certificates and photos to a total value of R150 000 while the vast majority of the budget R1.55 million will go to service providers to host the event. R900 000 is earmarked for ‘venue hire and catering’ for the 200 guests that will be invited, totalling R4500 a head for the bash. This is more than dinner at the most expensive five star hotel in Durban.”

However, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana defended the event, saying it was aimed at “boosting staff morale” and the public would form part of the nomination process.

“It is not an irregular expense as the budget is from the Corporate and Human Capital Cluster which is responsible for skills development, performance management, staff retention and improving human capital in the Municipality,” she said.

Responding to a question that the city allegedly awarded a R215 million contract for work on its Revenue Management System without advertising a tender, Mtolo, said “I haven’t heard about that but I won’t deny it”.

A report tabled before the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (Mpac) last month reportedly stated that between R300  million and R800 million had been spent on the RMS irregularly and that about R86 million of this was considered fruitless and wasteful expenditure, according to a media report.

Motolo said the government embarked on “transparent, competitive and fair” tender processes in line with the constitution and the billing system was an essential feature to keep the city operational. So, it may have been necessary to award an emergency contract.

“Under certain circumstances they can invoke section 36 in an emergency situation and we all know the city has been grappling with a billing system that is not 100% correct. And the billing system is the core that says this ratepayer owes so much …. If they go to tender it is going to take a longer time so I would assume they invoked Section 36,” he said.

“I don’t see an official of the city giving a tender for R200 million that is not allowed,” Mtolo said.

A spokesperson for eThekwini Municipality said the city had not secretly grant a R215 million deal to replace the current billing system, as reported in the media recently, but had put the matter out to tender on 28 July 2023.

“The city assessed the current billing system for MSCOA (Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts)compliance and it was found to be non-compliant. Various feasibility studies were conducted to find a cost-effective solution,” a spokesperson said.

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