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Factory workers suffer as MPs increase own salaries

Local economist and independent analyst, Majakathata Thakhisi Mokoena


Nov. 17, 2020 3 min read

3 min read


THE decision by government to increase ministers’ salaries is indefensible and gives a wrong imprint about Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s leadership skills, with close to 45 000 factory workers still waiting for their own increment.

Earlier in October, government, through the Ministry of Public Service tabled a proposal in parliament seeking to increase salaries of among others the premier, his deputy, cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and the Chief Justice.

Subsequently, MPs’ Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2020 were released, revealing that the premier’s salary shall be M709 296 per annum while the Deputy Prime Minister will take home M612 564 a year.  

On a monthly basis, Dr Majoro according to the schedule will pocket M59 108 while Mathibeli Mokhothu is expected to take home M51 047 per month.

The regulations further suggest that other MPs and ministers shall enjoy a sum of M593 088 per annum alongside the Speaker of the National Assembly. 

The proposed adjustments have come across a series of criticism across the board, with analysts also questioning the rationale behind the decision.

Trade unions have also jumped on the bandwagon, expressing their frustration over the decision while they are still fighting with the very same government towards increasing factory worker’s salaries.

“Each and every year, private sector’s salaries must be increased through the assistance of the wages advisory board. As it stands, the board played its role in February. The only problem is that no agreement was reached between the board, employers and representatives of the employees as well as the government.

“Employers were offering a lower percentage than the one which was requested by the employees and therefore no agreement was reached. The conundrum meant the Ministry of Labour had to intervene and come up with a solution, but we are surprised that until today there has been no word from the government regarding the increase,” the National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU) General Secretary Sam Mokhele, said during a media briefing on Monday.

He said it is rather shocking that while factory workers always have to fight for salary adjustment, the government found it befitting to adjust their own salaries and say nothing about factory workers.

“We are surprised by the move, but it goes on to show that government does not care about the workers, let alone the Minister of Labor Keketso Rantšo,” Mr Mokhele added.

Trade unions have for a long time been calling for Rantšo to be fired from her ministerial position or moved to other ministries, but that has not happened.

They argue that Rantšo is incompetent and does not show willingness to address the workers’ challenges as per the mandate of her ministry.

Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro


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The Minister of Labour Keketso Rantšo

Local economist and independent analyst, Majakathata Thakhisi Mokoena also took a shot at the government, telling Metro in an interview last week that ordinarily, the action to increase minister’s salaries is indefensible.

He argued that this is particularly so, because other countries such as Botswana for instance have actually done the opposite.

“In that country, all MPs including the president, have taken a 10 per cent cut in their salaries in order to donate into an established COVID-19 fund. The president further urged, rather strongly, that the private sector to do the same. The result is a big fund that helps people adversely affected by the pandemic,” Mr Mokoena showed.

He therefore argued that, the timing of the increase is also ill-advised given the negative impact of the virus and the global economy.

“The action does not appear prudent and sensitive to the affected, especially when we hear a loud mantra that the government has no money and can therefore not meet its bona fide obligations, including those ordered by the constitutional court,” he added.

He singled out the textile industry in the country as the most affected by the disruptions in global value and supply chains.

“But I do not see appropriate mitigating actions being implemented, especially with measures directed at defending domestic aggregate demand and increasing self-reliance with regard to food security. Generally, I do not see visible plan to effectively revive the economy stagnated by COVID-19 apart from the lackluster response such as doling out food parcels to the most vulnerable. That is not a lasting solution,” Mr Mokoena also noted.  

   

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