ACDP calls for public servants' 3% pay rise to be forfeited to help economy

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe says a salary freeze would save a lot of money that could be used to help flood victims.
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe says a salary freeze would save a lot of money that could be used to help flood victims.
Image: Sunday Times

While the ACDP has called for the halting of the latest salary increases for public office-bearers, the party has stopped short of saying its own public representatives will not be accepting the pay hike.

The party says increases must be put on hold until the economy improves.

“The ACDP is not unsympathetic to the needs of public office-bearers who, like millions of other workers, have gone without salary increases for at least two years while inflation has continued to grow,” said the party on Tuesday. “Furthermore, the ACDP is cognisant of the economic challenges facing our nation, such as low GDP growth, a high debt to GDP ratio, massive unemployment, inconsistent energy supply (Eskom), collapsing SOEs and municipalities across the country, to mention a few.

“It is against this background that the NEC of the ACDP has made the call to halt the 3% increase for POBs”.

When asked by TimesLIVE whether the party’s public representatives will forgo the 3% increases approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, its leader, Kenneth Meshoe, said with so few of them, it would not make much of a difference. He said the party had not discussed this or how much would be saved if its own public representatives sacrificed increases. It had only looked at the global picture, he said.

“The fact is that we don’t have many public office bearers and the percentage that we would forgo might be very negligible,” he said. “We were looking at the whole amount we could use if public office bearers could say ‘we will wait until there are some improvements’.

“That would be a lot of money that could be used to assist people, particularly those who are flood victims because much has not been done to come to their rescue,” said Meshoe.

Asked if he would consider it as a principled position: “That is not a problem. That can be done. For me to do something like that, for us to do something like that, we need to talk about it and come to an agreement.”

Ramaphosa accepted recommendations to increase the salaries of politicians and other government officials by 3%.

The recommendations were made by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers, applying to all categories of public office-bearers, including ministers and their deputies, premiers, MECs, MPs, MPLs, traditional leaders and judges.

Parliament defended the increases on Tuesday.

“Certain media reports have implied that the 3% salary increase for public office-bearers approved by the president earlier this month on the recommendation of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, was ‘tone deaf’, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo in a statement.

He said public office-bearers, like ministers, MPs and MPLs last had salary increases in April 2019 when the commission recommended a 2.8% increase.

“Because of the prevailing and difficult economic conditions, it was important that the remuneration of the public office-bearers be adjusted to enable them to cope with the rising costs of living.

“The average consumer inflation rate has been on the increase, and for 2021, it was 4.5%, which is higher than the averages recorded for 2020 (3.3%) and 2019 (4%) — resulting in the buying power of the disposable income becoming lower,” said Mothapo.

He said an important factor which was sometimes misinterpreted was that salaries of MPs are published as a total remuneration package (total cost to company) and not cost-plus benefits.

“For example, if an ordinary MP earns R1.1m a year, that includes the basic salary, a flexible portion, a travel allowance, a political office bearers’ allowance, and a contribution to the pension fund.

“Deductions from the salary include tax (Pay As You Earn), medical aid, party contributions, village accommodation and others authorised by the individual MP such as a bond or car instalment,” he added.


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