Council bigwigs get fat cheques

2012-09-16 09:53
Jeanne van der Merwe and Athandiwe Saba
Treasury data reveal double-digit increases, while clerks and cleaners forced to settle for 5.5%

Many of South Africa’s municipal bigwigs scored double-digit salary increases, while clerks and cleaners had to settle for a 5.5% pay hike.

That’s according to Treasury data City Press analysed to explore how municipal officials across South Africa ­are paid.

City Press compared the total budgeted salary packages of senior managers in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 financial years.

This revealed that increases of 15% and more were not uncommon – and some ­councils paid their top staff increases of 40% or more.

During this period, municipalities across the country ground to a halt during a 10-day strike called by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) over pay demands.

The figures are published yearly by the Treasury and must be signed off by two senior officials from the individual municipalities, which provide the data to Treasury officials.

Among the highest increases recorded in the data are:
» A 64% increase for the manager of Thaba Chweu Local Municipality in Mpumalanga – from R830 211 in 2010 to R1.3 million last year.

The municipality disputed the number, but did not provide alternative figures for the years in question.

It said its manager currently earned R870 000 per year.

The municipality was also the scene of service delivery protests earlier this year.

» Bonjala Platinum District Municipality, the scene of last month’s Marikana mine killings, reported a 31% increase in the total package of its municipal manager – from R1.17 million in 2010 to R1.54 million last year.

The comparisons showed many double-digit increases in rural municipalities.

In most metros, managers’ increases were modest, except for Ekurhuleni’s municipal manager and chief financial officer, who received increases of 21% and 19%, respectively.

For Tshwane, both posts’ packages shrank over that period.

In July 2010, wage increases for municipal workers rose by 5.5%, 1.5% above inflation, following a wage agreement signed the previous year by the SA Local Government Association, Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union.

Earlier this year, a pay rise of 7% was negotiated for workers, with 1.125% above inflation next year plus 1% in 2014.

However, municipal managers and their deputies fall outside of this process.

The regulations governing municipal managers’ salaries require that their yearly increases be linked “to a cost-of-living adjustment based on market indicators, which is not performance based”.

Two municipalities justified double-digit increases to managers by saying they wished to bring their managements’ salaries in line with those of neighbouring municipalities.

The Western Cape municipality of Langeberg – which runs Ashton, Robertson, Montagu, Bonnievale and McGregor – increased its municipal manager’s package by 17%, from R1 million to R1.2 million, while those of
the chief financial officer and three other directors rose by between 22% and 24%.

Residents of Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, shelled out 33.6% more for its municipal manager last year.

But the municipality’s spokesperson, Hlengiwe Manqele, said this could not be seen as an increase, as the council had appointed a new manager on a new contract in November 2010 on a total package of 1.3 million compared with his predecessor’s R988 000.

The town was the scene of a violent service delivery protest in 2010.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality in Kimberley, Northern Cape, budgeted a 17% increase in municipal manager Goolam Akharwaray’s package – from R1.65 million to R1.94 million.

Allowances made up R410 134
of his total package in 2010 and R495 340 last year.

Increases Paid to Municipal Managers