The Cape Chamber of Commerce and opposition parties have slammed the City for continuing with salary hikes for its top officials amid Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus
The Cape Chamber of Commerce and opposition parties have slammed the City for continuing with salary hikes for its top officials amid Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus

Outrage over pay hikes for City of Cape Town officials amid Covid-19 pandemic

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Jun 3, 2020

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Cape Town - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and opposition parties have slammed the City for continuing with salary hikes for its top officials amid the financial crunch brought on by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The City has decided to stick to its increases of 6.25% for office bearers.

“This new City budget reflects all the characteristics of the previous draft circulated for comment on March 26 – it’s still aimed primarily at voters in the upcoming municipal elections,” Chamber president Geoff Jacobs said.

“Despite its earnest intentions, the budget fails once again to address the huge gulf between the salary and wage levels in the private sector and those paid to all 27000 City employees – especially those at the very top of the municipal organogram.”

Jacobs said that despite the City cutting its expenditure in certain areas it had left the increases of salaries untouched.

The City “has cut expenditure in many areas that are not urgent but it has left salaries and wages untouched, except for a token reduction in the annual bonuses which are dwarfed by the 6.5% annual increase everyone on the City payroll gets. This at a time when large swathes of the Cape’s private sector workforce are on half pay, on unpaid leave, or have been retrenched”, he said.

Last week, the City council approved its 2020/21 budget. The total budget is now R54.4 billion, up from the R52.7bn draft budget. It shows a total Covid-19 budget impact of R3.8bn, including more than R900 million of additional Covid-19 expenditure and a funding requirement of R2.1bn largely due to the crisis.

The draft budget, which went out for public consultation in April, received about 733 comments, most motivated on the basis of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the lives of Capetonians.

ACDP councillor Demetrius Dudley said: “Each financial year, the Minister of Cooperative Government, after consultation with MECs for local government in each province, determines the upper limits of the salaries, allowances and benefits of the members of the municipal councils. The determination which makes provision for an increase must be agreed to by a full council, with a supporting majority vote.”

Dudley put forward a proposal at a full council meeting held via Skype that all councillors of the City including the mayor, deputy mayor, speaker, members of the mayoral committee, chief whip and chairpersons of Section 79 committees not to accept a salary increase this year amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Public concern has been raised about the proposed increases in rates and services rendered by the City, and an increase in councillor remuneration at this time will be a bitter pill for people to swallow,” he said.

Cope caucus leader Farouk Cassim said: “Taking this huge budgetary challenge into account, side by side with the fact that the majority of businesses in Cape Town have not been trading and many workers have had decreased or no income at all, it is very wrong to implement any increases in remuneration whatsoever at this time.”

Deputy mayor and mayco member for finance Ian Neilson said all municipalities were required to implement this increase. “The City automates processes where appropriate. Even so, cost-cutting is constantly considered, hence the R450 million reduction in staff costs. Its staff complement expands where required, for instance, in the new year with the appointment of hundreds of new safety and security personnel

“The City alone has funded the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Cape Town while also financially helping residents and ratepayers. The salary increase for 2020/21 is budgeted at 6.25%, as per the SA Local Government Association agreement.”

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus

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