The probable 0% salary adjustments for most senior public office bearers – still to be ratified – will save the state about R100 million, while municipal councillors’ sub-inflationary increases can save another R100 million.

This would more or less pay for those officials who are getting the stipulated 6% increase. They comprise lower-income earners such as magistrates and low-ranking traditional leaders, whose increases amount to R138 million.

The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers published its annual recommendations last week, arguing for most high-ranking state officials to make a “patriotic sacrifice” and forgo a cost-of-living adjustment this year.

This includes the president and his entire Cabinet, deputy ministers, MPs, judges and senior traditional leaders.

“It would be inappropriate for the leaders of the country … to receive an increase, while many citizens feel the pinch of economic and fiscal down trends,” said the commission, whose recommendations are usually translated directly into the actual increases officials receive.

Should the commission’s counsel be followed, these are the projected savings:

  • By having the president, his deputy, ministers and deputy ministers all forgo an increase, the state saves about R9.5 million.
  • Statistics provided by the presidency on the number of officials in each salary bracket also suggest that money saved on parliamentarians’ salaries will total R24 million.
  • At the provincial level – including the premiers and provincial legislatures – R34 million will be saved by giving everyone a 0% increase this year.
  •  The country’s 1 620 magistrates will receive a normal 6% increase – but the 237 judges will not, saving another R26 million.
  •  Should top traditional leaders – including 13 kings or queens – also get 0%, R1.5 million will be saved.

Municipal councillors will receive a sub-inflationary 4% adjustment, even though the commission notes in its report that “there was a strong view that they too … should be expected to sacrifice an adjustment to their salaries”.

South Africa has about 8 000 councillors, and the difference between a 6% and 4% increase amounts to a saving of about R100 million for the state.

The lower rungs of the traditional leadership system will receive a normal 6% increase.

Even though these payments are relatively small, there are 829 senior traditional leaders and 7 399 headmen who receive an adjustment.

These increases amount to R51 million.

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