Municipal manager gets a 48% increase while pandemic ravages economy

Municipal manager gets a 48% increase while pandemic ravages economy

- A municipal manager in the Steve Tshwete Municipality has received a 48% salary increase

- Municipal staff received a 6.25% increase, despite the devastating economic effects of the pandemic

- The salary increases come as part of a three-year agreement that was concluded in 2018

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While the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has raised concerns about the proposed 6.4% salary increase for City of Johannesburg councillors during the current economic crisis, the Steve Tshwete Municipality in Mpumalanga has increased its municipal manager advocate Bheki Khenisa's salary by 48%.

The rest of the municipal staff of the Mpumalanga area received a 6.25% increase. This comes at a time when eight out of 10 South Africans have suffered a drop in income averaging R7 500, said the Citizen.

Municipalities are hiding behind the fact that the three-year agreements were concluded in 2018 with the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) that allow for staff pay increases of Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1.25% this year, and a home owners’ allowance increase of 7%.

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Since this agreement was concluded long before Covid-19 lockdown, cash-strapped residents are left to cover the municipality's wishes.

Six senior managers of Steve Tshwete Municipality voted themselves an average 16.8% increase. But the municipal manager's salary was increased by 48%.

Advocate Bheki Khenisa is the municipal manager for the Steve Tshwete Municipality. Khenisa was a manager in Rustenburg up until 2015.

In 2015, he was suspended after being accused of misconduct relating to unspent conditional grants from the National Treasury amounting to R426.9 million, reported Independent Online.

In 2017, Khenisa quietly slipped into his new role at the Steve Tshwete Municipality without any official announcements being made.

To make up for this, already struggling residents will now see an increase in various tariffs. This will see an increase of 9.5% on property rates, and increases of 8.1% for sewerage, 6.7% for refuse collection, 6% for water and 6.3% for electricity.

Democracy oversight groups like Dear SA and OUTA are now stepping up their monitoring of the country’s 257 municipalities to make residents aware of the incoming expenditures by their leaders.

In an interview with Powerfm, OUTA Executive Manager Julius Kleynhans said:

"They are increasing salaries of councillors as well as the normal administration. They are also pushing up tariffs, property rates, electricity, water and sanitation. It doesn’t seem like local government is doing their part in cutting the costs. In fact, they are passing it down to us as customers."

A resident of the Steve Tshwete Municipality said:

"I think this is greed on another level, especially during these trying times."

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