Tshwane municipality has rejected a claim that it approved R500 000 to escort President Jacob Zuma despite not having enough funds to foot the bill.
The City of Tshwane on Monday confirmed that its Metro Police department had escorted President Jacob Zuma and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe out of the province for an ANC election campaign last week.
"Yes, we can confirm that ... but we are denying the amount stated," said Tshwane municipality spokesperson Blessing Manale.
"And we don't think we should disclose the operational cost."
The Sunday Independent reported that the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) approved R500 000 to escort Zuma and Motlanthe to Mpumalanga for the party's campaign despite not having enough funds to foot the bill.
It reported that money was allegedly used from the unit's subsistence and travelling budget to pay for accommodation over nine days.
The request for the escort allegedly came from the police's presidential protection service.
"This request is being made due to the fact that the balance in the department's subsistence and travelling budget will not be sufficient to cater for the requirements of this report," states the request, according to the newspaper.
"In order to address the request from the police, the TMPD must procure accommodation services for the escort team. Other services, such as transport, will be fulfilled using internal departmental/municipal resources."
The team departed on January 3 and stayed for the week until January 12, when Zuma returned to Gauteng.
Manale said the issue over it being out of the province was not important.
"It's about the South African Police Service VIP unit asking for the escort. It's immaterial whether it was out of the province."
Manale said he would issue a more detailed statement shortly.
Answer to residents
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the Tshwane Metro Police had to answer to its residents.
"At the end of the day, residents of Tshwane are the losers as officers and money were taken away from Tshwane where a service should have been rendered to its own residents as far as safety is concerned," said DA councillor Karen Meyer in a statement.
"This is not good public administration ... We cannot allow government, not even a state president, to direct money away from the basic needs of a city to be used outside that city for its own luxurious extravaganzas."
Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said all matters relating to security were handled by the police.
"It's not a matter we handle."
TMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba could not be reached for comment. – Sapa