Why is Joburg’s mayor paid more than the legal limit?

The City currently pays the mayor R25 542 a year more than the nationally set legal limit and plans to triple that overpayment in the new financial year

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26/04/2024 10:54:18

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Why is Joburg’s mayor paid more than the legal limit? 

JoburgCAN wants to know why the City of Johannesburg overpays the mayor and plans to continue doing so in 2024/25.

JoburgCAN, an initiative of OUTA, is seeking clarity on the staff and remuneration policies in the City of Johannesburg (COJ).

Ahead of the scheduled adoption of the budget and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for 2024/25 at the special council sitting on 16 May 2024, JoburgCAN is pushing the City to clarify its budget allocations and make urgent amendments to avoid a failed budget.

We note with scepticism the spending on top brass and positions rather than maintenance and infrastructure. Perks and allowances must be cut to address the immediate needs of residents in the city.

JoburgCAN has found discrepancies in the remuneration of the City’s executive, including the mayor being paid more than the nationally set upper limit in 2023/24 and plans to again breach the limit in 2024/25.

In August 2022, the upper limit of the annual total remuneration package of executive mayors at the biggest municipalities was determined as R1 446 388. The mayor could, in addition, receive a cell phone allowance not exceeding R3 400 per month (R40 800 per year), giving a  maximum remuneration  total of R1 487 188. A total amount of R1 570 093 was, however, set in the budget, paying the mayor R82 905 above the legal limit. 

In August 2023, the national upper limits were increased, backdated to July 2023, giving a maximum of R1 501 351 plus a cell phone allowance not exceeding R3 600 per month (R43 200 per year), a maximum remuneration of R1 544 551. Even with this increase, the mayor was still overpaid by R25 542 for the year.

The draft budget for 2024/25 shows the City intends to continue this overpayment, listing the mayor’s remuneration as R1 620 420. This is R75 869 above the current legal limit.

The councillors are also subject to legal limits. However, the limited information provided in the City’s budget makes it difficult to assess whether the City complies with these limits.

The total bill for the councillors (including the mayor, speaker, chief whip, MMCs and the rest of the 270 councillors) in 2023/24 was R184.542 million. The draft budget for 2024/25 increases this by 3.7% to R191.409 million.

While there are limits to remuneration at the upper limit, nothing prevents a municipality from paying less than the prescribed upper limits due to affordability constraints. We call on the City to accept its budget constraints and drop the executive pay packages.

After a public outcry over the City’s recent decision to allocate approximately 60 personal security personnel and 40 fleet vehicles to the executive, department heads and MMCs, speaker Margaret Arnold stated that the allocation aligned with the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, and no diversion of service delivery resources was involved. However, the schedule gazetted in terms of the act on 18 August 2023 lists the Tools of the Trade as including “Executive Mayor, Mayor, Deputy Executive Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Speaker or Whip are entitled to two bodyguards” and notes that deviating from this may only be done on the recommendation of the SAPS (which the City did not do). 

Where is the diversion of spending indicated in the draft budget?  JoburgCAN believes this is not affordable, does not comply with the law, and the costs are being deliberately hidden in the budget.

JoburgCAN would also like clarity on the numbers of councillors. The draft budget lists 292 positions for political office bearers and other councillors, but the City officially has 270 councillors. No clarification is provided for this. 

The 2024/25 budget book, IDP, tariffs and rates policy bylaw documents to be considered by the council in May leave too much open for interpretation, are contradictory and obstructive to citizen oversight. Before the council approves these documents, they must respond to the input and questions of residents such as the unclear remuneration of councillors. 

More information

A soundclip with comment by Julia Fish, the Manager at JoburgCAN, is here.

JoburgCAN made a detailed submission to the City of Johannesburg, strongly criticising the draft budget and IDP. See more here.

More about JoburgCAN is here.

JoburgCAN is an initiative of OUTA and was established to improve service delivery, engage in local government affairs, and foster community within the City. JoburgCAN represents affiliates and supporters residing in all seven regions of the City. As a properly established community-based organisation, JoburgCAN acts in unity and on behalf of its affiliates and supporters.

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