South Africa: Cooperative Governance On Gratuity Payments for Qualifying Non-Returning Councillors

Gratuity payments for qualifying non-returning councillors has begun

Post the 2016 Local Government Elections, 5 222 councillors did not return to their posts in municipal councils where they served in the local government term 2011 - 2016. To this effect the Department of Cooperative Governance embarked on the process to pay the once-off gratuity to non-returning councillors based on the pensionable salary of each councillor.

In essence, the payment of the gratuity was to, amongst others, to provide financial relief to non-returning councillors so that they can adjust at a time where they are no longer in the public office, and to assist them to meet their financial obligations.

After the 2011 Local government elections, more than 4000 individual former councillors received a once off gratuity after an intensive screening and vetting process of the 3698 submissions. It is important to note that 3 437 councillors were paid the gratuity directly and 237 councillors, although eligible for the gratuity, did not receive any payment as they were indebted to the South African Revenue Service ("SARS").

In this context, only the councillors that served a minimum of 24 consecutive months and whose term had come to an end from 1 April 2016 and onwards are be eligible for receiving the gratuity payment. The process is currently unfolding to pay the once-off gratuity to 4942 eligible former councillors. Thus far over 800 recipients have already been paid and the process is continuing. Government has made provision that in the event where an eligible councillor has passed on, such gratuity must be paid to the beneficiaries or estate of such a councillor.

This payments are preceded by strict screening which includes checking tax states of individual councillors with SARS. Those who owe SARS will receive their funds less the tax they owe.

The current payment model and process followed a robust engagement process between government and various stakeholders, which also included the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

"As CoGTA we express gratitude to this group of former councillors for the leadership the demonstrated and the commitment that they have shown by actively serving our communities through their different portfolios in line with constitutions of our country. As government and the communities, we wish them well in their future endeavours", said Minister van Rooyen.

Source: Department of Cooperative Governance.