Municipal councillors have asked parliament to increase their salaries and benefits to R815000 a year – the same as members of provincial legislatures.
The SA Local Government Association has also recommended that councillors be paid by the national Treasury, like all other politicians.
If the association has its way, the wage bill for South Africa’s 9000 councillors will cost taxpayers an extra R7 billion a year.
During a presentation to parliament’s select committee on finance last month, the association called for an “urgent” review of how councillors are remunerated to bring them into line with the pay packages of politicians in provincial and national government.
Excluding car allowances, full-time councillors earn an annual package of between R280000 and R542000, depending on the type of municipality they serve.
Their part-time counterparts earn between R119000 and R253000 a year, excluding car allowances.
Members of provincial legislatures also receive free cellphones, airtime, and laptops, which many of their local government counterparts do not.
The association also wants:
- All part-time councillors to be made full-time councillors;
- Councillors to be entitled to, at government expense, risk benefits including death cover, disability and funeral benefits, and insurance for personal assets lost or damaged due to public violence;
- Pension fund benefits such as those enjoyed by provincial and national politicians; and
- Salary increases and benefits to be finalised and implemented by April.
Lance Joel, the association’s chief operating officer, said: “In the main, what we are saying is that clearly there is a lack of appreciation of the role of councillors. According to legislation, councillors are politicians, like MECs, ministers, MPs and MPLs.
“It’s councillors that lose lives and have property damaged. There are endless stories of councillors being shot dead.
“They have no recourse when houses are burned and they are out in the cold. Councillors are public officials and they should be recognised as such – and be remunerated as such.”
In July, angry residents of Chiawelo, Soweto, torched two houses and two cars belonging to councillor Johannes Nemaungani and his predecessor, Mirriam Ramafola, in a dispute about pre-paid electricity meters.
Joel criticised the public for calling for the abolition of part-time councillors without making corresponding calls for “proper pay” for them.
“Why are you calling for part-time councillors to quit their jobs if they are not going to be remunerated as such?”
But local government expert Kevin Allan said there was no justification for councillors to be paid more – let alone from the national fiscus.
“The current dispensation for councillor payment is adequate. I think the comparison of local and provincial is [misplaced] – they do fundamentally different jobs,” he said.
Allan questioned the basis on which councillors wanted to be paid more.
“If the motivation is that we should free funds for development and services, I think that should be stated clearly.”
The DA’s local government spokesman, James Lorimer, said the association’s demands were unreasonable.
“It’s a non-starter. When the proposal was originally made, the central government said it was not affordable. It’s a fantasy; it’s not going to happen.”
He accused councillors of demanding “vastly improved salaries without vast improvements in services. Councillors don’t understand that funds are scarce and should be spent carefully.”
Deputy Cooperative Governance Minister Yunus Carrim said: “Salga might want to consider phasing in some of their demands over time, rather than all at once.
“We will be meeting them soon.
Credit to: Times Live