Exclusive: DA respond to traditional leaders' 28.4% increase

By Staff Writer
Nqaba Bhanga, shadow minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) for the Democratic Alliance (DA) has exclusively revealed to Justmoney that he will be contacting Richard Mdakane, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Traditional Affairs, requesting clarity on issues raised by the announced salary increase for traditional leaders and headmen.
 
According to reports, traditional leaders in South Africa will be receiving a salary increase of 28.4%. There are apparently 5 000 headmen and women (traditional leaders) in the country, who will now be receiving a standardised annual salary of R84 125.
 
This increase was announced yesterday (22 June) by President Jacob Zuma, following a recommendation by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.
 
“Headsman and women in communities are junior leaders in the community who assist and help guide community members to uphold the values of the specific traditional council they might be part of. They are also responsible for ensuring that messages or plans/orders from the King and/or the princess are executed,” explained Yaseen Carelse, parliamentary media officer for the DA.
 
The DA responds
 
Bhanga noted: “It is unclear what necessitated such a dramatic salary increase, or how the figure of 28% was arrived at in the first place.
 
“If implemented, the traditional affairs wage bill will increase from R317 million this year to R407 million for the next financial year.”
 
This is an increase of 28.4%. Recent wage negotiations within the public sector were disputing over an increasing of 7%, yet the government has seen fit to approve an increase well above inflation for these traditional leaders, even though the economy is struggling.
 
According to Bhanga, “provinces will be expected to raise the R90 million in funds needed [for the increase], most likely at the expense of service delivery and poverty relief programmes.”
 
While the DA believes that further clarification on how this increase has been determined, it noted “we wholly acknowledge that traditional leadership plays a role in our diverse society and communities across the country.” However, Bhanga added that “fairness in the spending of public funds must prevail at all times.”
 
“It is of utmost importance that South Africans are provided with clarity on this exorbitant salary increase for traditional leaders as it appears to be pure electioneering by the ANC to buy the confidence of traditional leaders and their juniors ahead of next year’s local government elections,” said Bhanga.
 
The Department for Traditional Affairs, and the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.

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