The manager of Gauteng’s Emfuleni Local Municipality in the Vaal Triangle earns R200?000 a year more than President Jacob Zuma.
Sam Shabalala (52) pockets R2.8?million each year, making him South Africa’s most well-paid municipal manager.
The municipality, which includes Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark, services 722?000 residents and has a budget of R3.9?billion.
Shabalala earns about R100?000 more than both Tshwane Metro’s municipal manager, Jason Ngobeni, and Joburg’s manager, Trevor Fowler.
Joburg’s metro council has a budget of R44?billion and serves a population of 4.6?million people, while Tshwane gets R26?billion for 2.9?million residents.
Both Fowler and Ngobeni handle far bigger budgets and much larger constituencies, but earn less money than Shabalala. This is because salaries at local government level are not regulated. Municipalities can decide for themselves about officials’ compensation.
Neither Shabalala nor the Emfuleni council could be reached for comment.
The system is abused to such an extent that officials in smaller, poor and rural municipalities earn much higher salaries than their counterparts in urban municipalities, says Theo Venter, political and policy analyst at North-West University.
“There is almost never money for municipal workers, whose salaries are disgracefully low compared with the salaries of city managers,” says an SA Municipal Workers’ Union legal officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Use the money instead to improve workers’ living conditions, to build roads, provide services, sewage disposal and street lighting.”
Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, has finally addressed the issue and announced new regulations in terms of which the maximum is fixed for the salaries of municipal managers throughout the country, says Venter.
These regulations took effect on July 1.
Venter says the new limits do not mean that current municipal managers will suddenly take cuts in their salaries – the regulations apply only to new appointments in these posts.
“City managers’ high salaries are indicative of the larger problems in local authorities,” says Venter.
“In many cases, municipalities spend more than 35% of their total budgets on salaries.
“This means that taxpayers’ money is used to enrich officials instead of for service delivery and maintenance,” he says.
Biggest municipal earners per annum
1. Emfuleni (Gauteng) – Sam Shabalala, R2.8m
2. Tshwane (Gauteng) – Jason Ngobeni, R2.6m
3. Joburg (Gauteng) – Trevor Fowler, R2.6m
4. eThekwini (KwaZulu-Natal) – S’bu Sithole, R2.2m
5. Mangaung (Free State) – Sibongile Mazibuko, R2.1m
6. Cape Town (Western Cape) – Achmat Ebrahim, R2.1m
7. Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (Eastern Cape) – Mpilo Mbambisa, R1.7m
8. Fezile Dabi district (Sasolburg, Free State) – Lindi Molibeli, R1.6m (will increase to R2m this year)
9. George (Western Cape) – Trevor Botha, R1.4m
10. Mogale City (Krugersdorp, Gauteng) – Dan Mashitisho, R1.5m
Sources: Municipal financial statements, department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Treasury