Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has approved a 5.5 percent salary increase for top public servants, the presidency said on Thursday.

“After taking into consideration the recommendations of the commission and other relevant factors... the president determined that the total remuneration of all public office bearers should be adjusted by 5.5 percent with effect from 1 April 2012,” his spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

“The president is empowered by the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 1998... to determine salaries, allowances and other benefits of the public office bearers.”

The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers announced its recommendation on Wednesday.

Commission chairman Judge Willie Seriti said the proposal, which is 0.5 percent higher than last year's, enjoyed the backing of the ministers consulted, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

It would increase the president's annual pay package up to R2.6 million and push that of a Cabinet member to just above the R2 million mark.

Premiers would take home R1.88 million a year, mayors just over R1 million and Members of Parliament R889,383.

The commission said it based its recommendation on the Consumer Price Index, the economic climate and market trends in salary increases.

The recommendation was presented to Zuma in June. He traditionally took a decision on the final figure within two to three months, Seriti said. - Sapa