Municipal wage bill must be streamlined

By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape:

While municipalities are deadlocked in wage negotiations and rates skyrocket to cover salary increases, senior municipal staff in the Northern Cape are mining gold.

The Democratic Alliance believes that municipal staff must be paid salaries based on experience, skills and qualifications. However, remuneration must be entirely linked with responsibility and accountability.

Four municipal managers in the Northern Cape earned more than R1 million in 2013/14. This is according to a written reply to questions to the national Minister of Co-operative Governance.

The municipal manager in Sol Plaatje, Goolam Akharwaray, earned more than any other municipal manager in the province, including those from the district municipalities, and more than the municipal manager of one of the six metropolitan municipalities. While the municipal manager from Buffalo City had a basic salary of R977 914, the municipal manager from Sol Plaatje pocketed R1.48 million. Mr.

Akharwaray also enjoyed perks worth at least R175 200.

As of 1 April 2015, Mr. Akharwaray’s total remuneration package is

R2.051 million. This is more than magistrates, members of parliament, mayors, traditional kings, high court judges and deputy ministers earn. In fact, it is higher than the salary of the premier, which is reportedly R1.7 million. It is also significantly higher than any of the members of the executive council, who earn around R1.2 million.

The DA urges the premier to intervene on these high-scaled salaries that are paid to officials, especially in instances where consultants have to do their work.

If you add performance bonuses and perks, the four municipal managers from Dikgatlong, Emthanjeni, Ga-Segonyana and Gamagara also earned more than R1 million.

Municipal managers are not the only ones earning huge salaries. Chief financial officers are also raking it in.

A municipal manager and a chief financial officer must have certain skills and must be compensated for those skills. However, the audit outcomes for 2013/14 shows that municipalities are in distress. For example, the Ga-Segonyana municipality has received nothing but disclaimers since the 2008/09 financial year. Yet the chief financial officer has a total remuneration package of R809 387 and the municipal manager has a total remuneration package of R1.13 million. Similarly, the Tsantsabane municipality has received only disclaimers for the past six financial years. The chief financial officer has a total remuneration package of R967 200 and the municipal manager R1.326 million.

Are we compensating skills or are we just compensating political connections?

New regulations come into effect in 2014 which caps the salaries paid to municipal managers. The total remuneration paid to municipal managers must consider competitiveness, flexibility, affordability and consistency.

It is clear that many municipalities in the Northern Cape simply cannot afford their senior managers.