The council of Mafube Local Municipality (MLM), in a closed meeting on Wednesday 30th August, apparently voted in favour of increases in their remuneration packages. What the increases are to be is not clear due to the secrecy surrounding the meeting.
Incidentally, the Municipal Systems Act determines that all meetings of council must be open to the public, unless a specific policy and a by-law giving effect thereto is in place. In the case of MLM, no policy or by-law exists to limit public access to meetings of the council and its committees.
In light of the dire financial state of the municipality as reflected in the Status Quo assessment of National Treasury, it is the view of Mafube Business Forum (MBF) that it is wholly inappropriate for MLM to even consider increases for its councillors at this stage. It would also be unethical for councillors to accept increases where a municipality cannot afford to pay its workers regularly and on time, and cannot render services to its community as it is constitutionally obliged.
So, how much are Councillors paid?
In accordance with the Government Notice of 2 June 2022, the upper limits of the annual total remuneration packages of part-time councillors in a Grade 3 municipality such as MLM, are set at R280 603.00 whereas the remuneration for councillors in full-time positions such as mayors, committee chairpersons, range from R360 107.00 to R494 655.00 It is likely that the increases voted for by councillors would be equal to the increase announced for rates & taxes and municipal service charges, i.e. 8.5%, which would push up ordinary councillors’ remuneration to R304 454.25 per annum and their total remuneration bill ballooning to around R5 8-million.
Is this affordable?
Simply stated – no. MLM are for all intents and purposes bankrupt, and kept alive artificially, to the detriment of taxpayers. In the view of MBF, councillors are politically appointed officials who add cost to the municipal system; it is debatable whether any value. Without a drastic improvement in the local economy and growth of the municipal tax base, any additional financial burden on MLM is not only unaffordable; it could prove destructive. Municipal councillors ought to do the responsible thing, set an example for officials and workers and reject pay increases, until significant economic recovery in Mafube has realised.
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