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Hubert Khobane
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Bulging wallets

04 June 2014, 21:00

President Jacob Zuma continues to ignore every independent institution and destroys it is the process!

In the context of severe corruption, the most recent increase in civil servants salaries, that are in total contradiction to the recommendations of the Independent Commission of Remuneration of Public Servants – was hardly mentioned in the media.

Actually policy matter is at stake.

The commission exists to avoid conflict of interest for Politicians to decide on their own salary increments and salaries. Even with the final decision in the hands of the President, it still undermines the constitution if its recommendations are ignored.

On the 19th December 2012, the commission recommended that employees in the civil servants and especially politicians that earn less that R 500 000 be given a 7% increase, that those earning between R 500 000 and R 800 000 be given a 5% increase, and for the ones that earn between R 800 000 and R 1 000 000 million be given a 4% increase. People earning in excess of R 1000 000 would not qualify for any increase.

The sliding scale devised and logic to bring about a balance whatever you think of it, and it should have been the duty of Zuma to have accepted it in good faith.

But instead he rejected it and gave everyone a 5% increase in their salaries. That amounts to an additional R 45 million that has to be funded from taxpayer’s money. He himself however will not get an increase. This does not exonerate him of conflict of interest as he is keeping those that surround him and protect him, in good standing, and then he knows he can count on their support and they will take care of him.

Fortunately the Constitution requires that the premiers of a province must consider the recommendations of the commission and then decide on it as applicable for the province or not.

The DA believes that the independent commission has a mandate that they have to adhere to.

The Western Cape cabinet therefore at a meeting held on the 23rd January 2014, agreed to accept the report of the commission, and that those in office earning more than R 1 million would not get any increase.

This decision taken in a minute – an easy decision to say the least.

But true to its nature, in government there always has to be complications.

The process according to law is supposed to work like this: The national government must give premiers 30 days in which to consider the increases as recommended by the commission for provincial office bearers. That period ended on the 7th February 2014.

But long before this date, and without any negotiations, the adjustments approved by Zuma was implemented in all provinces. No decision or comments on it was even asked for.

Zuma just ignores blatantly what constitutional institution dictates to him what to do. He believes as powerful politicians must decide what must happen.

The crux of a democracy does not in any way mean and or implies that the power of the democracy should be in the hands of the politicians, and the commission for the remuneration of civil servants should be considered as such an institution.

To have rejected the recommendations, Zuma, is busy to start the tendency, to destroy each and every independent institution from the national prosecuting authority up to the judicial service commission so that his power can be extended beyond all borders.

Politicians in South Africa are currently earning salaries that are in excess of those in rich countries instead of developing countries. With South Africa’s thin tax cushion, growing debt, and poverty, these increases are indeed a challenge for the economy as it stands now. Amazingly Zuma in real terms earn more that his similar people in Britain, France whom is by far the two strongest financial countries in the world.

Research also shows that civil servants in South Africa are actually earning more than any other politician in the world, in rich and growing economies.

Other research also shows that the cost of politicians and civil servants in South Africa as a percentage is higher than the gross domestic product than that in Germany and Scandinavia.

The salaries of the Premiers in the nine provinces are better than the highest paid governors in some of the most prosperous states in America, the world biggest economy.

And then these are the matter that we must not lose out of sight and that is what Louis D Brandeis said: We can’t have a democracy and have wealth in the hands of a few. But we can’t have both either!”

We have a president and government that make us feel that we are all fighting the enemy together.

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