PARTIES QUESTION MISSING SHARE OF MUNICIPAL FUNDS: THE HERALD

OPPOSITION parties want answers from the Nelson Mandela Bay ANC chief whip about a R2.5-million constituency allowance which allegedly was not split among political parties as intended.

DA leader Leon de Villiers, who demanded answers from chief whip Feziwe Sibeko in a council meeting two weeks ago, said constituency allowances had been in the budget for the past two years and that not a single opposition party had benefited from the money.

UDM leader Mongameli Bobani said yesterday all the opposition parties were unhappy about the issue because the extra staff in Sibeko’s office were not catered for on the staff organogram.

COPE leader Mzwandile Hote said the party had not received any of the money either.

Constituency allowances are usually made available for political parties to perform their duties.

While Sibeko confirmed it was budgeted for since the 2009/10 financial year, she said the money was never used. Aat a full council meeting two weeks ago, Council speaker Maria Hermans – said chief financial officer Kevin Jacoby confirmed to her that the funds were never used.

De Villiers, however, said they believed the money was being used to pay for five members of staff in that office at R1.7-million a year.

This excludes Sibeko’s salary of about R800 000 a year and a variety of budget items totalling R781 760.

“Unless this matter is resolved to our satisfaction, we will be calling in the public protector as well as requesting Bobby Stevenson, our leader in the provincial legislature, to pursue this matter in terms of the Municipal Systems Act,” De Villiers said.

“Using the number of seats won in the May local government elections, where the ruling party won 63 seats and the [DA] 48, that budget will now be subject to an almost 50/50 split given the other parties in the chamber.

“The practice in metros such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town is that the constituency allowance is shared among all political parties, whether in opposition or in government.”