Zille faces repeated accusations from Cosatu that she takes two salaries. Police commissioner General Bheki Cele has been using the SAPS jet rather a lot at a cost of R1.5 million to the taxpayer. Backyarders want the resignation of the Western Cape housing MEC, and claim they have proof of corruption in the department. By SIMON WILLIAMSON.
Accusations and implications regarding an alleged second salary taken by Helen Zille – one as premier of the Western Cape and one as the head of the DA – continue to be repeated by Cosatu in the Western Cape. This began before the local government elections in May when Tony Ehrenreich was the ANC’s mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town (he subsequently lost to the DA’s Patricia de Lille and now forms part of the opposition on the city council). But he also releases these statements on behalf of Cosatu in the Western Cape and not the ANC. Ehrenreich, in early May, said that it was ironic that Zille positioned herself in a position of morality but “continues to collect two salaries, one as premier and one from the DA, essentially for the same job”. He called it morally corrupt, reprehensible and indefensible. The DA replied at the time through Helen Zille’s spokeswoman, who said that Zille did not draw two paychecks – that she was paid the same as every other premier (R1.5 million, which is determined by government anyway), although she did admit that the leader of the DA was traditionally allowed a small stipend. This issue came up again the following month and on 9 June Zille admitted, in response to a question by the ANC’s Patrick McKenzie in Western Cape parliament, that her stipend did not amount to R10,000 after tax and that she declared it in parliament. McKenzie insisted this amount was more than R20,000. On tuesday, Cosatu waded into the subject matter again. In a statement released by Tony Ehrenreich, he “challenges Premier Zille to follow him by giving her second salary to a noble cause”. While this in itself is an admission to a second salary by Ehrenreich (one from the city council and one from Cosatu, I assume), the threats to report Zille to the Public Protector if she doesn’t “stop the self-serving greed by end of July 2011, through a public letter confirming an end to the second income” are probably somewhat excessive. To be clear: Zille’s stipend is funded by the DA, not the taxpayer.
On 10 June DA shadow minister of police Diane Kohler Barnard asked minister of police Nathi Mthethwa about the manner in which police commissioner General Bheki Cele uses the SAPS jet. The minister replied with details about trips taken since 2 August 2009: there were 47 occasions on which the jet was used. The total cost which added up to R1.5 million, including singular expenses of R78,000 to Harare and R87,000 to Angola and Durban. To put that into perspective, a first-class ticket between Johannesburg and Luanda (on TAAG 7 to 9 September) is R14,168; a return business-class trip between Cape Town and Johannesburg is R6,328 (on SAA from 7 to 8 September) and a return business class flight to Harare from Johannesburg is R8,896 (on SAA from 7 to 9 September). So this plane is damn expensive to use. When the plane was bought for “operational purposes” in 2009 a spokesperson for the police said: “When a special task force and other specialised members of the SAPS need to attend to urgent situations, in terms of intervention, they will utilise it.” So there is definitely validity to its existence, as well as a possible security threat to the police commissioner which needs to be circumvented. However, Mthethwa did not provide reasons for the police commissioner’s use of the aircraft.
The Mandela Park Backyarders claim they have proof of corruption and demand the resignation of Western Cape human settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela. This follows the group’s investigation into the Mandela Park housing project in which they say only 150 of a planned 950 houses have been built, 12 of which are occupied incorrectly – four remain vacant, five have the wrong people in them, one contains a foreigner and two are occupied by former housing-project managers. According to the article in West Cape News, neither Helen Zille nor her spokesperson Tracy Venter could be reached for comment. Madikizela, however, said that he was willing to work with any organisation which had proof of corruption, but that he refused to engage with the Backyarders “because they are annoying and act like hooligans”. The human-settlements department did begin an investigation into housing in and around Cape Town and announced preliminary results, but never released a final report. Madikizela said that this was because the investigation took place under difficult circumstances which meant there were gaps in the information.
Read more: West Cape News