South Africa’s public servants will cost the country an estimated R61 billion, thanks to a three-year deal to increase government wages.
According to a Reuters report, the figure was quoted by acting Public Service and Administration Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
In May, government agreed to a 7% wage increase for approximately 1.3 million public servants – including nurses, teachers and police officers – bringing the country’s wage bill paid from government coffers to as much as R470 billion.
The wage bill has increased over 80% in the past 10 years, and the annual increase has averaged more than 6% above inflation, Reuters said.
According to the report, government may look at reducing the wage increase by 0.6%, which could result in the deal being scrapped, and massive strike action in the public sector.
This would put an already strained economy under even more pressure, counter to government’s attempts to curb spending and boost investment in the country.
Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance said recently that President Jacob Zuma can save the country billions by abolishing a third of government ministries.
Zuma presides over one of the most bloated Cabinets in the world with 35 ministers and 37 deputy ministers, which the DA said fosters a “fertile ground for very costly ANC-style cadre deployment extravagance”.
Sej Motau, DA shadow minister in the Presidency said: “The negative consequences of this ill-considered massive executive structure are there for all to see: an astronomical public service wage bill that grows every year.”
“There is very little to show for this huge expenditure as productivity continues to deteriorate resulting in ever-increasing service delivery protests from angry, frustrated communities around the country,” Motau said.
Last week, Parliament approved a salary increase for the president, adding R130,000 to his annual pay, totalling over R2.7 million.
In January, the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers recommended a 5% increase for all office bearers, including the president, deputy president, ministers, deputy ministers and members of parliament.