This week, Die Burger shocked its readers with an article claiming that the Municipal Managers of the Western Cape were being overpaid by millions of rands. The blogosphere was soon quoting it and attention in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay was avid and comments explosive.
Bitou’s Allen Paulse topped the local red list by earning R564 555 p/a more than is permitted. Knysna’s Lauren Waring was R203 633 over the top.
The situation cooled slightly when James-Brent Styan, the Spokesperson for Anton Bredell, the MEC for Local Government in the Western Cape, made a statement, clarifying the situation: “The government notice became effective as of 1 July 2014. It now means some managers are earning more than the new provisions allow for. One cannot reduce current packages as that would very likely be a breach of contractual law. The current levels of remuneration may therefore remain in place. The current notice has several practical implementation challenges and these must urgently be addressed.”
However, the salaries remain controversial because the public were mostly unaware that small town Municipal Managers were being paid so well. Paulse’s package equates to R 1 549 265 p/a (Bitou pop. 49 000). Waring’s is R1 395 113 p/a (Knysna pop. 69 000). It’s possible that these figures do not include perks.
Collectively, the Municipal Managers of Eden District in the Western Cape are earning over R9million each year to service 574 000 people. That’s before you include the many Directors under them, some who are earning over a million too. The difficult fact is that the majority of taxpayer revenue is being spent on salaries whilst the district suffers from ageing infrastructure and an over-demand for housing. The Western Cape’s concern is that paying them less will result in their loss to the public sector.
Bredell has requested that national government appoint a task team to to investigate how it can be practically implemented and what effect the lower limits will have on local government performance.