President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana are under pressure to cut the state’s workforce, which has some of the highest paid workers in the world, reports City Press.

More than 55 000 public servants earn more than R1m per year which, according to experts, is not even performance-driven.

The government workforce is almost 2m.

In the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, which Godongwana tabled last week, the National Treasury admits that the wage bill for public servants is 3.5% higher than the average of 38 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

These countries include Australia, Canada, the US, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Since 2013, the average compensation of public servants has grown faster than the numbers employed – mostly due to salary hikes that were higher than inflation.

Johan Gouws, head of advisory services at Sasfin Wealth, says that, from 2015 to 2021, the public service grew by 2.1% and the wage bill by 6.2% per year.

Gouws adds: ‘So, it shows there were inflation-adjusted increases every year – whether we had a good year or a bad year.’

According to the MTBPS, the number of public servants earning above R1m per year has grown from just over 10 000 in 2013/14 to more than 55 000 in 2023/24.

Almost half of public servants now earn between R350 000 and R600 000 a year.

For Gouws, the question is how you put an ‘overweight’ public service of 1.8m officials on a ‘diet’.

‘The public service’s production should be higher than the (monetary) resources that are being eaten up.’

Trouble is, he notes, the public service’s salary increases are guaranteed, whether workers perform or not.

Full City Press report