Secretaries in the traditional courts say R1 600 a month is not fair… they are seeking a wage of R12 500.
Durban - While still grappling with the spending of millions of rand on izinduna salaries, the KwaZulu-Natal government is headed for another financial headache as secretaries in the traditional courts are now demanding “fair pay” for their work.

They are currently earning a monthly stipend of R1 600 and they want that improved to around R12 500. 

This could result in the Department for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) having to fork out R4.5 million a month extra in salaries. 

The secretaries, under the banner of KZN Traditional Council Secretaries, delivered a memorandum of demands to Cogta offices last month. The council represents about 365 secretaries across 11 provincial districts. 

This could present challenges for Cogta, which recently started paying salaries for izinduna. The department had dragged its feet in making the payments, claiming it did not have the money. 

In her budget speech early this year, Finance MEC Belinda Scott finally settled the matter when she allocated R252 million for izindunas’ salaries for the current financial year.

The money to pay izinduna had to be sourced from Cogta and other departments, including the cash-strapped department of Basic Education.

Cogta is still at risk of izinduna demanding back pay, which could run to millions of rand.

Siyabonga Ndulini, the chairman of the council, said they were expecting a response to their demands from Cogta on Tuesday.

“We want the department to move us from the stipend to level 5, which we understand is around R12 500,” said Ndulini. 

He said their actions were not influenced by the fact that the department had started honouring payments to izinduna. He said they were happy that izinduna were getting paid as they performed an essential service to the traditional courts.

Ndulini said they also wanted the department to stop threatening them with dismissal. 

“They always say they will advertise our posts and some of us do not have the qualifications, we want them to stop that because some of us have been working in the courts for 20 years.
 
“We also want the department officials to treat us with respect,” he said.

A secretary of one of the courts said they worked hard and therefore deserve to be paid fairly. 

“We work five days a week from 8am to 5pm. We are responsible for keeping track of the activities, and some of us even clean the courts,” he said. 

Sipho KK Nkosi, the chairman of the Finance Portfolio Committee, said they were not aware of this latest wage demand. 

“I cannot express a personal view on this matter as we have not been briefed by Cogta; if they do brief the committee, Cogta will have to tell us where they will get that money from.”

Cogta spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said they would need to investigate the matter before they could comment.