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Joburg’s city manager was offered 27 percent more pay than the job was budgeted at when he was hired, and the city says his 5.3 percent increase for this year is standard.
In July, after less than a year in the job, city manager Trevor Fowler can expect an increase of R142 654, excluding any bonus payment, bringing his annual package to R3.2m.
City of Joburg officials disputed reports in The Star on Friday that Fowler was getting a 34 percent increase, saying although the new salary level was correct, he had been hired at a higher rate than former city manager Mavela Dlamini.
The Star noted in the Friday report that the budget did not indicate whether Fowler was paid at this level from the start of his appointment or if it was an increase from the start of the new financial year on July 1.
The council did not dispute the 34 percent gap between the amounts budgeted for 2011/12 and 2012/13. On Monday, city officials provided clear figures on the increase.
“Trevor Fowler commenced employment on September 9, 2011 and formally as city manager on October 1, 2011,” said the council in a statement.
It said the city’s 2011/12 budget reflected the amount paid when Dlamini held the job – R2.413m including bonus – so it was “inappropriate” to compare the two salaries.
Fowler was hired at an annual salary of R2.692m including travel allowance, but excluding a bonus, about 27 percent more than Dlamini was getting. If a bonus is paid, it is calculated at 14 percent and would bring the total to just over R3m, according to the city’s figures.
His increase for 2012/13 brings the salary to R2.834m, or R3.231m including a bonus.
The city said any bonus paid was related to performance.
On Monday, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) criticised the high salaries of municipal managers, saying workers were “time and time again refused a decent living wage”, and lowest-paid workers received R3 000 a month.
“It is ridiculous that these managers get paid millions, even though the municipalities they work for are plagued by corruption, nepotism, crisis and the poor delivery of services,” said Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema.
“President (Jacob) Zuma earns about R2.5m a year, Deputy President (Kgalema) Motlanthe about R2.2m and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is paid R2.23m a year,” he added.
The city said the starting package had been verified by a private sector human resources company, which calculated that 50 percent of metro executive managers earned more than this.
The Star checked the 2011/12 budgets reported to the National Treasury for the metros of Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane (Mangaung documents were unreadable and Buffalo City did not include those details), which show that Fowler’s starting package made him the highest paid metro city manager. That salary also appears to be higher than all other senior managers for the metros, with the possible exception of some of the managers in Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The Star queried this, and the council said it used the “most recent salary survey data”, which was based on government, parastatal and private sectors.
Earlier, city officials said Fowler “was recruited from a senior position in the private sector and the City of Johannesburg had to ensure that he is remunerated at a package appropriate to his situation”.
Fowler was head of Murray & Roberts’s construction businesses in the Southern African Development Community. M&R’s annual report gave his total guaranteed remuneration for the year ending June 30, 2011 as R3.2m (no bonus paid) and for the year before as R3m (basic of R2.3m and bonus of R750 000).
On June 30, M&R announced Fowler’s resignation as an executive director with immediate effect in order to take up the City of Joburg job. A comment posted online by City of Joburg DA councillor Laurette van Zijl said Fowler’s appointment was presented “as a surprise urgency item” to the June 30 council meeting and “undue rush”, as the start date was September 1.