Which mayor earns most?

2012-03-24 00:00

SOME of the country’s best-paid mayors are in rural KwaZulu-Natal and earn more than their counterparts in the metros, including the economic heartland of Gauteng.

This is the startling picture that emerges from official data comprising nearly 7 000 records that Media24 Investigations has analysed.

South Africa’s biggest mayoral earner, according to the Treasury numbers, are Nelson Mandela Bay’s Zanoxolo Wayile, who was budgeted a package of R1 047 860, pipping Cape Town’s Patricia de Lille by R20 and eThekwini’s James Nxumalo, who earns R1 034 450.

But it is the tiny Abaqulusi Municipality in Vryheid — home to about 247 000 people — that has raised eyebrows. It pays its mayor, Patience Khaba, a total package of R860 050 a year — only R90 000 less than that of Ekurhuleni Metro Mayor Mondli Gungubele.

Khaba’s package is also more than that of City of Johannesburg’s Mayor Parks Tau, whose total remuneration amounts to R810 000.

Abaqulusi’s mayor and council speaker did not respond to requests for comment.

However, Democratic Alliance councillor Henry Heyns in Abaqulusi defended the salary paid to the ANC mayor. Heyns said it was justified and was set according to law. Khaba was diligently fighting corruption and leading service delivery, Heyns said. The municipality was once placed under administration.

Tau’s spokesperson, Fred Mokoko, said the mayor was reluctant to comment on other mayors’ salaries.

Khaba also earns more than Msunduzi’s Chris Ndlela, who earns R731 561. Ndlela is paid less than the Uthukela District Mayor Duduzile Mazibuko, who earns R759 629 annually. The fifth highest earner among mayors in KZN is Ugu District Municipality’s Ntombifikile Gumede.

Hot on Khaba’s heels elsewhere in the country is the mayor of Metsimaholo Municipality based in Sasolburg in the northern Free State, Brutus Mahlaku, who gets a total annual package of R842 310.

The mayors of Lejweleputswa District Municipality based in Welkom and Nkangala District Council in Mpumalanga also earn more than Tau and Ndlela. Both these district mayors have packages of more than R830 000 a year.

South African Municipal Workers’ Union spokesperson Tahir Sema reacted with shock to the size and disparity in pay between mayors.

“These salaries are not justifiable at all because about 70% of municipalities are not functioning properly. You find a lot of service delivery protests everywhere in the country.

“Mayors are earning far too much and we will push that they must take voluntary cuts on their salaries,” said Sema.

Labour economist Loane Sharp said the total salary bills in the various councils were uniform, which was surprising given the wide variety of circumstances in terms of population served, number of municipal employees, and land area.

“The only valid basis for public servant remuneration is on-the-job performance, especially in local government, where remuneration should be connected to service delivery outcomes, such as the number of houses built, number of homes electrified, number of homes with potable water, infant mortality and school enrolment,” he said.

Werner Zybrands, a municipal consultant and former lecturer in municipal governance, said generally salaries paid to municipal management staff were fair, provided the correct people were appointed, but cadre deployment meant that those appointed didn’t always have the skills to justify the salaries.

Mayoral salaries and those of other public office bearers at national, provincial and local level are determined every year in line with recommendations made by an independent commission, currently headed by Judge Willie Seriti.

Last year they received a five percent increase.

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