South Africa’s 10 kings have received a salary increase, but it is just not enough.

The R1-million-a-year salary has angered the Congress of Traditional Leaders because they believe kings are equal to the country’s president, who earns more than R2.6-million.

The chairman of the National House of Traditional Leaders will receive an annual salary of R727877, and his counterparts in the various provincial houses of traditional leaders will be paid R599505. The 5% salary adjustment will be backdated to April last year.

But it is particularly the salaries of senior traditional leaders and headmen – which go up to R188 424 and R79 364 a year respectively – that has Contralesa fuming. The body’s general secretary, Xolile Ndevu, said yesterday that their salaries were “a disgrace”.

“A headman is the first layer of government. If something happens in a rural community, the one stop where people will report to is the headman. The whole structure of our institution is really undermined.”

Ndevu said the chairman of the National House of Traditional Leaders should be paid as much as the speaker of parliament. In January, when President Jacob Zuma approved pay hikes for senior government officials, the then National Assembly speaker, Max Sisulu, got an annual package of about R2.5-million.

Ndevu said Contralesa and the leadership of the National House of Traditional Leaders would discuss the salary increments before addressing the issue with Zuma.

King Goodwill Zwelithini was allocated R51.3-million for the current financial year for the upkeep of his royal household, including almost R3-million for crop and animal production on his farms.

He received an additional R12-million last year for the refurbishment and renovation of his seven palaces.

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