Buffalo City Metro to pay R35,000 towards funeral costs of spouses of its councillors
Buffalo City Metro will pay R35,000 towards funeral costs of spouses of its councillors and traditional leaders to help ease the burden.
The "contribution" became effective from May last year after council amended its funeral policy for councillors and traditional leaders.
There are 100 councillors and 20 traditional leaders in the council and each qualify to get a R50,000 contribution towards their own funerals.
Council speaker Alfred Mtsi said the spouses had to be included as it became a "burden" for surviving partners to bury them.
"Politicians always attract big crowds, their lives are not like ordinary people.
"When their spouses or partners die, large numbers want to support them and then it becomes a burden to the affected people to bury them.
"The costs become too much. It was in that spirit that the councillors felt that the policy, which was silent on spouses, should be amended," said Mtsi.
Traditional leaders were included despite not having voting powers in council. They earn a R5,000 monthly stipend.
Asked why the traditional leaders were catered for in the clause despite not having voting power in the council, Mtsi said: "We treat each other as equals as much as there are differences.
"They are still regarded as traditional councillors. They are servants of the public too," said Mtsi.
The amendment was initially discussed in 2017 during a workshop where councillors fought for their spouses to be "recognised".
The councillors also wanted the metro to contribute towards the funerals of former councillors, however, that was rejected by the metro's legal department, which said such a move would go against the Municipal Finance Management Act.
"During the workshop in 2017, it was discussed and agreed that a contribution of R35,000 be made in the event of the passing of the first spouse of a councillor or traditional leader," said Mtsi.
ANC ward 11 councillor Mashwabada Gcilishe said: "The spouse should not only mean the husband and the wife, but it must also mean a life partner such that those who are not privileged as I am are able to reap the benefits."
Another ANC ward councillor, Crosby Kolela, supported the R35,000 amount.
However, he cautioned against the life partner clause, saying they should be registered at the speaker's office to avoid problems in the event of death.
"The problem we are going to encounter is the fact that today a life partner will die unregistered, next week another life partner will die so there must be only one life partner.
"If you change your life partner, go and register again and say you are changing your life partner. Otherwise we'll have a problem," said Kolela.