Izinduna back-pay blow

The 3 000 izinduna in the province who have been waiting for R1,2 billion in back pay look set to be disappointed.

The KZN government has received a legal opinion advising that the provincial government is not obliged to pay izinduna (who earn R7 000 a month) the back pay because there was no contractual agreement between it and them when then president Jacob Zuma signed the pay proclamation in 2013.

The legal opinion compiled by Premier Willies Mchunu’s special adviser, Linda Zama, said the law did not favour izinduna on the question of back pay.

The provincial government has been negotiating with the over 3 000 izinduna on the question of back pay and has said it cannot afford to pay the R1,2 billion bill.

Departmental budgets had to be slashed to fund the R250 million izinduna salary bill in 2017 when the provincial government started paying them.

The legal opinion, of which The Witness has seen a copy, said izinduna were classified as volunteer workers by the KZN Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.

Izinduna have warned of chaos should the provincial government not pay up.

Head of Ubumbano Lwezinduna, Vusi Mthethwa, said patience was already running thin as the matter had been allowed to drag on for far too long.

“It would be a disaster. The situation would just escalate to a point where even us as the leaders of izinduna, we would not be able to control. At the moment we have been restraining izinduna who want to march in all the districts throughout the province.

“Izinduna have become edgy about this because they have been waiting for this money for far too long. Some people, especially political parties, are using that opportunity to divide izinduna. They are saying the department has bribed us and they are promising to fight for izinduna on condition that they join their parties,” he said.

Mthethwa said the negotiations over back pay between the leadership of izinduna and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, were ongoing.

Mthethwa said izinduna were facing many challenges since they started receiving salaries.

Premier’s spokesperson, Thami Ngidi said it was totally up to the premier on what to do with the legal opinion.

“It is very tricky when it comes to the advice because the premier may decide to use it or not. The legal opinion is entirely for the premier’s consumption,” he said.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department would not entertain the contents of the legal opinion.

“It is a confidential document that belongs to the office of the premier. We do not know how it was obtained and we can not authenticate it by commenting about it,” he said.