Councillors' pay hike mooted
A statutory body that determines the salaries of elected public office bearers wants better pay for municipal councillors.
Judge Willie Seriti, chairman of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, said councillors were badly paid despite the fact that their jobs placed them in the brunt of what were often violent service-delivery protests.
Municipal councillors currently earn a total salary package of R380000 a year, and that could increase to R401000.
By contrast, a minister's pay is to rise from R1.9-million to just above R2-million, following Seriti's recommendation that their salaries be increased by 5.5% for the 2012-2013 financial year.
Seriti said his commission "shared the concern" that councillors were underpaid and that this should be reviewed.
The commission was also "concerned" that the public purse did not cover insurance for the houses and vehicles of councillors. These were often set alight by furious residents protesting about poor service delivery, he said.
". The remuneration of a municipal councillor needs to be looked at in its entirety," he said.
Seriti, a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, said a shortage of funds had forced his commission two years ago to abandon research into international best practices in the remuneration of councillors.
According to his latest proposals on salary increases for those holding public office, President Jacob Zuma's salary is expected to rise from R2.4-million to R2.6-million, while Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu's pay package would increase from R2.2-million to R2.3-million a year.
Salaries of deputy ministers would increase from R1.5-million to R1.6-million, and a back-bench MP's pay would jump to R889 000 from R834 000 a year.
It is recommended that the salary of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng go up to R2.3-million a year from R2.2-million. An ordinary judge of the labour or high court would earn just over R1.5-milion a year if Zuma accepts Seriti's proposals.
The judge said some public office bearers were not happy with the pay increments he had proposed.
The Magistrates' Commission was likely to challenge his recommendations in court because it felt that a 5.5% increase was too little.
In terms of Seriti's recommendations, a junior magistrate's salary package would increase from R671000 a year to R709 000, while a chief magistrate stands to pocket just under R1-million.
Seriti said the Magistrates' Commission has questioned his proposals for the past two years.
"Some our public office bearers, generally, are not happy with us . the magistrates are some of them.
"As I say, they have two legal actions again the commission and the president . those cases are still pending before the Pretoria High Court.
"We think that it is possible that they might challenge our recommendation again this year."