Durban - eThekwini’s city manager is one of the two highest paid government officials in the country, earning more than President Jacob Zuma, even though the city has yet to achieve a clean audit.
The auditor-general’s report on municipal spending was released last month, giving Durban an “unqualified audit”, which means the city still has irregular spending.
Joburg municipal manager Trevor Fowler was the highest earner with an annual package of R3.2 million followed by Durban’s S’bu Sithole with R2.75m a year.
Joburg also has yet to achieve a clean audit.
Cape Town’s Achmat Ebrahim, whose city did achieve a clean audit, earns R2.3m a year
The December 2013 Government Gazette showed Zuma’s annual package is R2.6m. National government ministers are paid R2m a year.
Fowler and Sithole’s packages include performance bonuses of R400 000 and R180 000 respectively.
A perk of working for these two municipalities is that all senior managers score bonuses.
Ebrahim has not had a performance bonus since the 2011/12 financial year.
However, Cape Town topped the 2014/2015 salary scales for all three municipalities with what it spent in total on salaries for its 221 councillors. It does, however, spend far less on its senior officials.
Joburg came in after the Mother City with salaries for councillors and eThekwini’s 205 councillors third. All councillors are on the same pay scale and are paid a package of R430 000 a year.
The salaries of the top officials in each metro are available online in their 2014/15 budgets.
In an email, eThekwini spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa did not answer a question on how the senior management’s packages in the municipality were calculated.
“These salaries are confidential,” she said.
She said the officials signed performance contracts.
“Their performance is assessed at the end of each financial year and, if they are assessed to have performed competently, they are awarded a bonus which is once-off and non-pensionable.”
In Durban, senior management officials are rated out of five on their performance. A score under three means an official does not qualify for a bonus. A number of them were given three or more out of five so they were paid the bonus.
Cape Town’s Ebrahim said his salary, and those of the senior team, were based on market data such as the consumer price index, remuneration of similar positions in other metropolitan authorities, remuneration of comparable positions in provincial government and increases granted to other employees in terms of collective agreements.
This would change though when officials’ pay remuneration was determined by new provisions in local government regulations.
Joburg did not respond to questions.
DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said the number of councillors differed in each metro, which explained the differences in budget. However, he questioned the high salaries for officials when they had not achieved a clean audit.
Performance bonuses given to officials where there were still financial anomalies was concerning, he said.
“They simply don’t deserve it. The city did not get a clean audit which means that they did not do their jobs properly.”
Mncwango said he was sure that if the performance bonus was linked to achieving a clean audit, the situation would change for the better as officials would take a stand on questionable financial issues.
“With our current situation in eThekwini, where we are always approving Section 36 payouts even when it is not necessary, a clean audit will remain a dream.”
IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said he also had a problem with officials receiving high salaries, especially the bonuses.
Nkosi said the party had complained for a long time about giving officials bonuses “when things were not even going right in their departments”.
“They have become too comfortable because they know that, even when they are not doing well, that bonus will still be in their pockets. The problem is that there is no internal control in eThekwini and, until we get that right, we won’t achieve a clean audit.”