The thorny issue of the payment of headmen (izinduna) continues to be a serious headache for the KwaZulu-Natal government as it doles out in excess of R300-million for the salaries of its 3‚150 headmen and headwomen.
The issue of the remuneration of izinduna‚ who earn around R8‚000 a month‚ took centre stage during the 2018/19 budget vote for the KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
“We continue to respond to the financial challenges of the payment of izinduna. While most of the work has been done on the verification and payment of izinduna‚ we continue to work hard towards creating and maintaining a credible database of izinduna‚” said cooperative governance and traditional leaders MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
She was echoed by the department’s HOD Thando Tubane.
“We’re aware of the terms that are being made at the level of the department‚ including engaging with the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs at national level to try and resolve the issue of the payment of izinduna‚” he said.
The department came under severe criticism from opposition parties‚ which said the payment of izinduna was crippling its finances at the expense of service delivery.
In 2015 former president Jacob Zuma‚ acting on the recommendations of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers‚ decided to standardise the salaries of the country’s more than 5‚000 headmen to pay a flat annual salary of R84‚125.
But there were concerns that this was meant to appease headmen and headwomen‚ who wield considerable influence in rural areas in a bid by the ANC to woo them into its fold.
The IFP has always relied on the support of izinduna in deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. But the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department at the time denied that the remuneration of izinduna was designed to ensure their loyalty to the ruling party.