At least 70% of national government salaries went to departments involved in security in 2015/16.
The South African Police Service was responsible for 42% of all salaries‚ according to Stats SA’s latest report on national government financial statistics. The rest of security spending was down to correctional services and defence.
The report does not provide a complete picture of civil service spending because it omits salaries paid to provincial government staff — such as teachers and nurses — and municipal employees.
But it reveals that spending on salaries‚ at R137-billion‚ grew by 11.24% in a year. It said this was mainly due to a shift in technical and vocational education and training from provincial to national government.
As a result of this change‚ Blade Nzimande’s higher education and training department became the fourth biggest employer in government‚ with 28 184 staff. But on average they earned the least‚ at R255 065 a year.
Out of 47 government departments‚ the 1 613 staff in the office of the chief justice earned the highest average salary of R808 249 a year.
Stats SA explained on its website that the huge margins between departments could be due to some having more senior staff.
“(That figure) is not to suggest that the office of the chief justice is overly generous compared with other departments; rather‚ it points to a relatively high proportion of senior staff in the department‚ with the skills and experience to match‚” it said.
In March‚ judges sacrificed their salary increases for 2016-17 financial year‚ a move welcomed by MPs in the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.
Committee chairman Mathole Motshekga said: “The committee commends the judiciary for this decision. It shows not only the responsibility of the judiciary‚ but also [its] sensitivity. The judiciary is leading the way in belt-tightening to save resources in favour of the masses and the poorest of the poor.”
Motshekga added that it showed a responsible judiciary providing leadership “to other institutions‚ including the private sector”.
Depending on their seniority‚ judges salaries range from R1.7-million to R2.7-million for Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Constitutional Court judges earn R2.1-million.
The average salary for the 418 417 national government employees was R328 104 in 2015/16. Those who pulled the average upwards included the 80 staff at traditional affairs‚ the smallest department by complement‚ who earned R707 825 a year.
This was R409 823 more than the average pay in the largest department‚ the police‚ where 192 879 staff earned R298 002 on average.
Stats SA said the government spent R23.4-billion more than it received in 2015/16. Grant payments‚ up 11.2% at R732-billion‚ dwarfed other spending. The next biggest item was the salary bill of R137-billion.
“The increase in grants … was mainly due to an increase in transfers from national government to provincial governments and municipalities‚” said Stats SA.