In danger or not, all mayors may have bodyguards

Every mayor and municipal council speaker in South Africa is now eligible for council-funded bodyguards without any requirement to first determine whether there is any threat they must be guarded against.

The guards are considered “tools of the trade” that councils may extend to their officers, alongside calculators and letterheads.

About 400 functionaries are affected by the change.

Previously councils had to ask the South African Police Service for a threat and risk analysis before they were allowed to pay for mayoral bodyguards, under national legislation that sets maximum salaries and stipulates allowed fringe benefits for local government office bearers.

Such risk assessments are still required before other councillors may receive personal security. But on December 15 the local government minister, Des van Rooyen, published new regulations that specifically exclude “executive mayors, mayors or speakers” from the need for threat assessments.

Instead, as is the case with payment for parking spaces and toner cartridges, personal security for top local government leaders is now subject only to “concurrence” by the provincial head of local government, and general provisions on affordability and value for money.

The proclamation is retroactive to July 2017.

Van Rooyen’s office did not answer a question on why the assessment requirement was dropped.

The new notice, also for the first time, allows local governments to supply a laptop or tablet computer to part-time councillors. These were previously reserved for full-time councillors or part-timers at or above the level of committee chairperson.

In a third change to fringe benefits, the maximum monthly cellphone allowance for ordinary councillors will more than double, thanks to a flattening of tiers. Under previous rules a maximum R3 400 monthly allowance was reserved for the speaker and higher only in the large municipalities. For ordinary councillors and leaders of the smaller municipalities the maximum was set at R1 900. In terms of the December 15 rules, however, the R3 400 limit applies to all councillors regardless of rank or size of municipality.

There is an additional R300 a month for data bundles.

With the implementation of increases ranging between 4.5% and 6%, the smaller municipalities may now pay their mayors up to R723 541 in total remuneration before expenses, not counting mandatory special insurance against damages as a result of civil unrest or public disorder.

For the mayors of the larger municipalities, total pay tops out at just shy of R1.3-million. 

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Phillip De Wet
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