Millions to be spent protecting political elite

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga government will spend R357, 7 million this financial year on private security services to protect government properties, including the official residence of Premier David Mabuza and his MECs.

The Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature on Wednesday adopted the 2013/14 Adjustment Appropriation Bill in which it appropriated an additional R262, 8 million to the department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison (CSSL). The appropriation was made to balance the department’s budget shortfall for security services. The Department has allocated 46% of its total budget to its Security Management programme.

Security Management was centralised under the department and entails the placement of private security officers at government properties, and the deployment of private guards to the premier’s residences, and those of his cabinet. Since the centralisation in the 2011/12 financial year the cost of this programme increased more than 300%.

Furthermore, this escalation came after the department contracted GNT Security as the main service provider. Considering that the department recently dismissed HOD Thulani Sibiya, and that he and GNT owner, Vusi Mashaba, are both under investigation for tender fraud and corruption, it would appear that the public may be footing the bill for this questionable tender.

The department’s budget shortfall has resulted in its failure to achieve several priority targets. These include the development of safety plans for two municipalities and the training of traffic law enforcement officers, which adversely affects the people of the province.

It is unacceptable that such an astronomical amount of money is spent on protecting the political elite of the province, while so many Mpumalanga communities, such as Hazyview, remain vulnerable and fearful due to escalating crime.

The number of fatalities due to road accidents also continues to increase, but government fails to act, opting for self-protection rather than protecting those who put them in power.

Contracting GNT for private security services at this exorbitant cost seems rather unnecessary, given that government can make use of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for this purpose, who would benefit enormously from such a cash injection.

It therefore raises questions about Premier Mabuzas and safety MEC Vusi Shongwe’s confidence in the SAPS.