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KZN municipality dismisses claim it hadn’t paid workers, claims disgruntled staff are behind the allegations

Picture: Karelien Kriel/Pixabay

Picture: Karelien Kriel/Pixabay

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Durban – The Umzinyathi District Municipality has dismissed claims that it is in dire financial straits, so much so that it had failed to pay workers their June salaries.

The municipality's mayor, Petros Ngubane, says the allegations are aimed at painting his municipality in a bad light when it was, in fact, working hard to get its finances in order.

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The district municipality, located in northern KwaZulu-Natal, is made up of Endumeni (Dundee), Nquthu, Umvoti (Greytown) and Umsinga local municipalities.

Ngubane’s response comes after an anonymous email was sent out by someone who claimed to be a member of staff on Friday morning.

In the email, the sender alleged that the municipality had to borrow money from local financial institutions to finance the payment of salaries.

It also had to dig from developmental grants from the provincial and national governments to cover the shortfall.

“The municipality took a loan last month to pay salaries after it discovered that the municipality had just 50k in its bank account. Today they informed middle managers that the municipality couldn’t pay June salaries, since there is nothing in the bank account and the municipality cannot account to what happened to the money (sic),” reads the email which was sent.

Firing back, Ngubane said the allegations were the work of some disgruntled employees who felt deprived of undue overtime that they had been claiming for years without anyone asking questions.

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He said, as a result, the “rotten potatoes” were trying to incite workers so that the overtime pay was brought back even though the AG (auditor-general) flagged it and asked the municipality to act.

“This is the work of some employees who have been raking in money through overtime pay which was not properly worked for. They are trying to recruit others to join them after we stopped it,” Ngubane said.

He claimed that even on Friday morning, some of the workers tried to stage a protest at their offices in central Dundee just to force the overtime to be brought back.

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The overtime pay was stopped after it was alleged that some municipal workers, mainly from the water and power sections, were deliberately ignoring faults during the early hours of the day.

They would, allegedly, start attending to them at around 4pm so that they could claim money for working after hours. Some of the workers, due to the dubious overtime claims, would aim as high as R50 000 (from the R23 000 normal salaries).

“Our efforts to stop overtime opportunities are informed by instructions from the Auditor-General that we (must) improve our financial standing. In the same vein, in the current budget we have stopped allowing private companies to do work for our municipality.

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“(This) has helped us a lot in improving our finances following advice from the AG who went as far as making an example out of us, saying that we have improved a lot after we had followed instructions from her office,” Ngubane said.

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