Will president's salary increase keep him awake at night?
The Times Editorial: In accepting a recommendation to award himself and other top public officials a 5.5% salary increase, President Jacob Zuma has missed an important opportunity to seize the moral high ground.
Though he could argue that he, like most of his predecessors, has simply followed the advice of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, a statutory body, hi s salary is now expected to rise by about R200000 a year to R2.6-million.
Given his anguished declaration, at the ANC's recent policy conference in Midrand, that the plight of the poor kept him awake at night, one could reasonably have expected that the president would have dispensed with a rise this year, or awarded himself only a token pay hike in solidarity with the bulk of his supporters.
After all, his current salary, of about R2.4-million, is substantial.
Members of his cabinet are also handsomely rewarded - they, too, could have got by on smaller increases than the 5.5% recommended by the commission.
What a wonderful gesture that would have been to ordinary South Africans, who are forced to contend with a slowing economy, rampant unemployment and steep rises in the price of electricity, petrol and service costs.
Just this week the World Bank warned that inequality in South Africa was threatening growth and that the incomes of 40% of our people would actually have fallen in the first decade after apartheid were it not for social grants.
In its latest report, the Washington-based bank confirmed that our society is among the most unequal in the world, with the wealthiest 10% of citizens accounting for 58% of its income and the poorest half less than 8%.
The timing of Zuma's acceptance of the remuneration commission's recommendations is also questionable - public-sector trade unions remain locked in a dispute with the government about their members' annual pay increases.