This is a short letter to you Sir about the pay freeze you recently suggested. In Xhosa we call a letter of this nature “isigqhebhezana”.
Last week you pleaded and encouraged senior executives in both public and public sector to Freeze their salaries. This to you said would signal “a commitment to guide and equitable economy”.
Taking my emotions and how I feel about you and your presidency outside of the matter, I must say it’s a good move.
South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 0.7 (2008).
A report released by the World Bank in June 23 this year noted that the inequalities of opportunities, particularly in the labour market, are the highest for the youngest age group of the country.
The report emphasized the need to tackle economic inequality in order to create jobs and bring unemployment down.
Your call to freeze salaries in my opinion then is one of many moves to fight inequality in our beloved country.
But Mr President, you need to set an example.
You recently received a 5.5% increase on your 2 million p/a salary. In addition to that, over 203 Million will be used to renovate your home in Inkandla.
It will be very hard for you to convince and encourage civil servants to tighten their belts when yours is really really loose.
If only you were like the Malawian President Joyce Banda who took a 30% salary cut; bringing her annual salary to just $42 000 (R340 000). It would not be that difficult for your servants to do as you say. Now you expect them to do as you say not as you do.
I will also urge you to remind your subordinates that the struggle has now changed. The struggle is about fighting inequality, creating jobs, improving our education, health and security system etc.
And all of these will happen if South Africa eliminates this huge gap between the rich and poor as the World Bank also emphasized in its report .
Esethu Here, an aspiring Public Policy maker and analyst who will happily take a pay-cut or freeze when working for the South African public.