Provincial governments‚ notably KwaZulu-Natal‚ will face a major headache in finding almost R100 million more to pay salary increases for headmen and headwomen as determined by President Jacob Zuma.
The president‚ acting on the recommendation of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers‚ has determined that the salaries for the country’s more than 5‚000 headmen and women be standardised at R84‚125 per year.
Last year‚ the countrywide cost to pay headmen was R317 million. This year it will be R407 million – an increase of 28.4%.
The fiscus in KwaZulu-Natal‚ which has 2‚039 recognised izinduna‚ will have to find an extra R139 million to pay these comparitively junior traditional leaders‚ which are currently being paid R15‚600 per year.
The new salary determination will require KwaZulu-Natal to fork out R171 million in izinduna salaries next year‚ whereas currently the figure is R32 million. This would somehow have to come from the provincial budget.
The issue has proven to be a real political hot potato for the national department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.
Asked about indications that the money for the higher salaries would eat into the provincial indigent budgets meant for the poor‚ officials from the department would not comment except to say that each province has to budget for the salaries of the headmen and headwomen within their provincial budgets.
They did not want to be named for fear of victimisation amidst worries that the provinces will have to fork out money meant for the indigent in favour of the headmen and headwomen.
Deep rural areas‚ where headmen and headwomen wield considerable power‚ are expected to remain the bedrock of ANC support in next year’s local government elections. If the ANC can replicate its deep rural success elsewhere to rural KwaZulu-Natal‚ it could once and for all pulverise the IFP‚ which has always relied on support in these areas.
The department of traditional affairs has‚ however‚ denied that the hefty salary increases for traditional leaders are designed to ensure loyalty to the ANC.
According to figures quoted by director general of traditional affairs Charles Nwaila in February this year‚ the Eastern Cape has 1‚193 headmen‚ the Northern Cape has 24‚ Limpopo has 1‚513‚ Mpumalanga 464‚ Gauteng four‚ KwaZulu-Natal 2‚039‚ North West 85 and the Free State 104. The Western Cape has none.
The cash-strapped Eastern Cape will therefore be paying R100 million in headmen salaries this year‚ and Limpopo R127 million. Because of the numbers and location of traditional leaders‚ the burden is heaviest on the poorest provinces.
According to information provided by the national department of traditional affairs‚ headmen and women in the Eastern Cape had over the years been paid without a determination‚ and will now actually be paid less than the R91‚000 they each earned last year‚ after the original pay determination was repealed in July.
Another problem awaiting national government in the very near future is the increasing number of people laying claim to the position of headman. According to figures recently provided by Nwaila‚ there are 3‚000 headmen in KwaZulu-Natal that are not officially recognised‚ 611 in Limpopo and 61 in Mpumalanga.
Reacting to queries‚ a senior official in the department of traditional affairs said the department is “aware of certain challenges in respect of headmen and headwomen‚ including recognition challenges”.
These challenges are to be addressed in the Traditional and Khoi and San Leadership Governance Bill of which the content will become public once the bill is tabled in parliament.