South Africa: Mboweni Doubles Down On Wage Freezes for Public Servants

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tables the 2020 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, October 28, 2020.

The finance minister has again proposed wage freezes for SA's public servants, including doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has escalated his battle against SA's 1.3 million public servants over their salary increases.

November is usually the month in which the government starts intense negotiations with trade unions representing public servants - including teachers, nurses, doctors and police officers - to review and adjust their salaries for the coming year.

Over the past decade, this negotiating period has resulted in agreements between the government and trade unions that awarded public servants inflation-beating salary increases. But things will be different from 2020 if Mboweni has his way.

In the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday 28 October, Mboweni set the cat among the pigeons when he proposed a wage freeze for public servants over the next three years to support his ambition of cutting government expenditure and debt, which is crucial to avoid a full-blown debt crisis.

The following metrics demonstrate SA's financial quagmire: total debt is R4-trillion, the budget deficit - which is the shortfall between revenue and expenditure - is at 15.7% or R761.1-billion, and gross debt is at 81.8% of the gross domestic...

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