A zero-percent salary increase has been recommended for members of the public bearers office for the 2016-2017 financial year.
The independent commission for the remuneration of public office bearers has called on its office bearers, including all members of the national executive and deputy ministers, to view the recommended zero percent salary increase for the 2016-2017 financial year as a “patriotic sacrifice”, given the current economic situation in which sacrifices need to be made to avoid an economic meltdown.
The proposed non-increase was released on November 11, after the commission consulted with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the Lower Court Remuneration Committee and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister David van Rooyen.
The consultations took place between May and August this year, with Gordhan emphasising the issue of the deteriorating state of the South African economy and the increasing constraints exerted on the fiscus. Gordhan highlighted the positive effect that the previous recommendation had on managing the budget, even though it was below the inflation rate.
Those who will be affected by the zero percent increase include:
• All members of the national executive and deputy ministers;
• All members of Parliament;
• All members of provincial executives and legislatures;
• All judges;
• Local government: positions of executive mayor to whip; and
• Traditional leadership: position of king or queen to full-time deputy chairperson provincial house of traditional leaders.
The commission is mandated to make annual recommendations relating to the salaries and/or the upper limits of the salaries, allowances, benefits and the resources required by some public office bearers to enable them to perform their respective duties effectively.
With regards to traditional leadership, the commission “discourages a situation where traditional leaders would live in relative comfort while their subjects or constituencies face abject poverty.”
The higher courts judiciary has been commended by the commission for expressing its willingness not to undergo an increase for the next financial year.
Due to municipal councillors being directly elected by the citizens and the reality that they are the lowest paid elected officials, the commission has recommended a lower-than cost of living adjustment for them so as to partially offset the effects the CPI and still be able to “patriotically sacrifice at least a portion of their salary adjustment”.
The recommendations would still have to be tabled by Parliament before being approved.
The DA’s John Steenhuisen told City Press that the recommendation was not something they had a say on.
“This is exactly why there is an independent panel to determine what salaries MPs get in order to avoid an abuse of the system when it comes to salary determination. It is appropriate that MPs don’t have a say in it,” Steenhuisen said.
The Congress of the People’s Dennis Bloem said the recommendation had been welcomed by the party.
“We are saying that we support and welcome the recommendations which have been put forward. The economy of the country is in a low state and if people in high offices are getting increases, what happens to those who can’t even afford a loaf of bread?” Bloem told City Press.
The ANC was unavailable for comment.