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Elections 2016: Once-off gratuity payments for non-returning councillors approved

Aug 15, 2016
Elections 2016: Once-off gratuity payments for non-returning councillors approved

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen has approved a once-off gratuity to be paid to qualifying non-returning councillors after the 3 August Local Government Elections.

“National Treasury has already made available an amount of R309.3 million over the 2016 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to pay the gratuity of the non-returning councillors,” the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said.

In August 2011, the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers made the recommendation that non-returning councillors should receive a once-off gratuity payment.

“This was to allow such councillors breathing space to solicit other remunerative employment of their choice,” the department said.

Outlining the reasons for the need to pay gratuity, the department said the amount is received by an employee from his/her employer in gratitude for the services offered by the employee.

“The main purpose and concept of gratuity is to help the workman after retirement. It is the amount which is not connected with any consideration and has to be considered as something given freely for the service the employee has rendered to the organisation,” the department said.

In 2011, more than 4 000 individual applications were submitted in this regard, screened and a total of R139.34 million was subsequently paid to former councillors that served from 2006 to 2011.

The payment of this gratuity was done in an open and a transparent manner, hence this process received no audit queries.

“Therefore, the same process is currently unfolding to pay the once-off gratuity to non-returning local councillors post the 3 August 2016 Local Government Elections, whose term has ended.

“The payment will be based on three months of their last earned salary, and on a sliding scale, depending on the time (number of months) spent in office. The longer a councillor was in office, the greater will be the gratuity,” the department said.

Minister Van Rooyen approved the once-off gratuity in consultation with various stakeholders, including National Treasury and Cabinet.

“It is, however, important to note that the exact number of councillors that will be eligible for receiving the gratuity, and the amount of the gratuity, will only be finalised after all municipal councils have been constituted, as it is only after that process that we will be able to identify those councillors that will not be returning to office,” the department said.

Regardless of the number of councillors not returning to office, the department will have to stay within the budgeted amount of R309 million.

“On behalf of all South Africans, I wish to appreciate the sterling work done by the non-returning councillors during their terms of office, especially their selfless contribution in moving our country forward as we envisage in Vision 2030, the National Development Plan,” said Minister van Rooyen. – SAnews.gov.za