South Africa

South African civil servants are overpaid – and deliver poor services

Dawie Roodt

Renowned economist Dawie Roodt said South African public servants are overpaid and don’t deliver the quality services they are supposed to.

Roodt’s comments come after Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kiviet announced that public servants will receive a 4.7% salary increase.

The 4.7% salary increase, effective 1 April 2024, will be applied across national and provincial departments.

Kiviet said the wage increase applies to non-senior management service public servants on salary levels between 1 and 12.

According to Kiviet, the decision on the 2024 wage increase considered several factors, including the current economic climate and the imperative for fiscal restraint.

The salary increases will make it more difficult for Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to fulfil his promise to curb “runaway expenditure and debt”.

The DA’s shadow minister of finance, Dion George, said the ANC government has no plans to address the country’s dismal financial position.

He said they have no plan to accelerate economic growth, stabilise debt, and reign in runaway expenditure.

“Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to restructure the size of the state, this is not reflected in the numbers,” George said.

“The public sector wage bill continues to balloon unsustainably.  An additional R251 billion has been budgeted to cover an increase in the public sector wage bill.”

Roodt also said the public sector wage bill is too high and that public servants are overpaid.

Two things happened over the past ten years, which caused problems for the country’s finances –

  • There was a dramatic increase in bailouts to state-owned enterprises like Eskom, SAA, and the South African Post Office.
  • On average, civil servants received salary increases above inflation. This resulted in a ballooning wage bill.

The result was that South Africa’s debt reached record-high levels. “We cannot afford to spend so much money. We need to cut back on state spending,” Roodt said.

“The day is going to come when we get into very deep financial trouble if the state debt keeps on increasing.”

He added that most of state spending goes to people, and cutbacks are needed to reign in this spending.


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