Ramaphosa on minister salaries, Joburg land reform, and government’s controversial new ‘district model’

President Cyril Ramaphosa has responded to a number of written parliamentary questions, answering on key issues such as the district development model and land.

Ramaphosa was also asked about whether his cabinet and the deputy ministers have donated a third of their salaries to the Solidarity Fund for three months from 1 May 2020.

In April, the president said that these members of the executive will all take a 33% pay cut over the next three months. However, Ramaphosa has now confirmed that this donation was not mandatory.

“The donation to the Solidarity Fund is a voluntary contribution that each member of cabinet and deputy minister chose to make in support of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Each minister and deputy minister is responsible for making the necessary arrangements to contribute to the fund.”

In a government gazette published at the end of February, Ramaphosa confirmed that a number of senior officials including the deputy president and ministers would not be receiving an increase this year.

The official salaries are outlined below.

Position Total remuneration
Deputy President R2 825 470
Minister R2 401 633
Deputy Minister R1 977 795

Split over a year, a minister’s salary works out to just over R200,000 a month.

A 33% reduction works out to R134,000 a month (a cut of R66,000) – meaning for the three months, each minister would contribute R198,000 to the fund.

District model

The president also answered on how the planned district-model of governance will roll out in South Africa, and how it fits within existing Constitutional frameworks.

The model aims to allow for more specific service delivery and budget considerations ‘at a district-level’. It was first brought to light in a leaked document, distributed by the DA, which proposed to adopt the strategy similar to how the National Coronavirus Command Council centralised power during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The DA has characterised the model as a power grab.

Under the model, all three spheres of government coordinate and integrate development plans and budgets while also mobilising the capacity and resources of government and civil society, including business, labour and community, in pursuit of inclusive growth and job creation.

However, Ramaphosa has previously acknowledged ‘teething problems’ with the new system, with pilot districts noting a lack of coordination, insufficient clarity on the rationale behind certain projects, and skills deficits to name but a few.

“The District Development Model (DDM) draws from the White Paper on Local Government, which describes local government as critical in rebuilding local communities and environments, as the basis for a democratic,integrated, prosperous and truly non-racial society,” said Ramaphosa.

“The DDM calls for collaborative planning at district and metropolitan level on the basis of a detailed, technically-driven consultative process within government and with communities and stakeholders.

“It is intended that this should result in a single integrated plan for each of the 44 districts and 8 metropolitan municipalities in the country.”

These plans will be implemented in line with existing prescribed development, departmental, strategic and annual performance plans for which each sphere and state entity is responsible, he said.

Ramaphosa said that the decision to introduce ‘district champions’ was discussed and agreed to by the President’s Coordinating Council in May 2020.

“The district champions, which include ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials, are meant to work with local, regional and provincial leadership to coordinate our response to Covid-19, avoiding duplication and wastage of resources.

“This is an enhanced form of integrated service delivery, meant to serve the people better.”

Johannesburg developments

Ramaphosa also answered on the issue of land – especially in and around the City of Johannesburg.

He said that the national and provincial government have undertaken several initiatives to resolve matters of access to and availability of land and housing – which includes looking at private land in the city.

These include:

  • Approximately 562 hectares of land have been identified for the planning and development of housing, in which the residents of Greater Alexandra will receive the benefit;
  • Additional portions of land owned by the City of Johannesburg have been identified to allow for the resolution of the outstanding land restitution claims. Also, all available privately-owned land within the vicinity is being identified to provide additional relief to the shortage of housing and related development in the area;
  • Developments are being planned within a five kilometres radius of the inner core of Alexandra, and approximately 25,000 housing opportunities are planned in the developments, with specific reference to Linksfield and Frankenwald;
  • Steps are being taken to overcome the long-standing legal, regulatory, funding and planning obstacles and delays, to ensure the transfer of ownership to approved households;
  • The land and housing plans and interventions related to land, housing and human settlements form part of a comprehensive consolidated Greater Alexandra Master plan that is in the final stages of completion. This will ensure that all development in the Greater Alexandra is consolidated, comprehensive and integrated with the City of Johannesburg, province of Gauteng and National Government.

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Ramaphosa on minister salaries, Joburg land reform, and government’s controversial new ‘district model’