No salary increase for magistrates

2013-05-24 00:00

AFTER a four-year battle, hundreds of regional magistrates got bad news from the Constitutional Court yesterday about their salaries.

In a unanimous ruling, 10 judges rejected an application by the Association of Regional Magistrates of SA (Armsa) that argued that President Jacob Zuma had decided their annual increase on an irrational basis.

However, despite the fact that several regional magistrates have privately expressed dissatisfaction at the ruling, there is no plan to embark on a go-slow strike, as district magistrates did in March, over complaints that are wider than just their salaries.

When Zuma set magistrates’ increases at five percent in 2010/11, Armsa began a court battle, arguing that the salary determination for regional and district magisatrates was a case of “one size fits all”.

They argued that they had not been consulted, and furthermore, regional magistrates’ workloads had increased with the widening of their jurisdiction to include some civil matters.

Zuma set the five percent increase after the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of State Officials recommended a seven percent hike.

After discussions with the ministers of Justice and Finance, however, Zuma decided seven percent was not affordable.

On this issue, the judges said, Zuma did not have to stick to the commission’s recommendations. They said Zuma had acted rationally by getting the input of experts (the two ministers) before making his decision.

Armsa president Delize Smith, a regional magistrate in Pretoria, said they accepted the court’s ruling, and would meet next week to discuss it.

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