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MBABANE – Will parastatal chief executive officers (CEOs) be the most paid government contracted employees?

The country has blown E141 million on salaries of just 48 chief executive officers in three years despite being in financial doldrums.
The CEOs earn a maximum of E150 000 a month while the less paid earn around E75 000 per month. 

Leading the pack of the most paid CEOs is the Commissioner General of the Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA), Dumisani Masilela. Excluding perks attached to the position held by the taxman, he earns about E150 000.  This pay hike started on December 1, 2016 after the PEU (Public Enterprise Unit) Circular No. 3/2016 – headlined ‘Controls on pay packages of Category A Public Enterprises’. The pay hike resulted in all Category A public enterprises (parastatals) executives getting a hefty E150 000 monthly salary.

The circular, dated November 17, 2016, distributed to both chief executive officers and Board of directors of the 36 public enterprises, was endorsed by the Director of Public Enterprise Unit (PEU) Busangani Mkhaliphi. The circular reflects that the highest paid CEO in Category A public enterprises Group Five takes home E150 082.58 per month, while the entry point for CEOs in the Group Five category is E110 930.58 per month.

According to  the Public Enterprise Unit Circular No. 3/2016, incoming members of the Executive will get just slightly a third of what the Eswatini -Bank Managing Director Zakhele Lukhele earns. This is because Lukhele and his counterparts from SRA, Public Service Pensions Fund, Eswatini National Provident Fund, University of Eswatini, Eswatini Electricity Company, Eswatini Post and Telecommunications Corporation, Eswatini Water Services Corporation, Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Eswatini Railway and National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA)  all get about E150 000 per month.
While the CEOs would be living large courtesy of the Public Enterprise Unit Circular No. 3/2016, politicians may have a 20 per cent reduction from their salaries. This follows that their salaries are still being reviewed by the Phil Mnisi-led Royal Commission. With this rate, it would mean the PM would have a deduction of E15 439.50 from his basic salary of E77 197. The premier, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, will earn E61 758 if his salary is slashed by the 20 per cent . This is lesser than what is earned by the CEO of Sebenta National Institute. Also, the Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku will earn E55 581.60 instead of the E69 477 that was earned by his predecessor Paul Dlamini after the proposed pay cut. Meanwhile, Cabinet Ministers like, Moses Vilakati and David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala will have their salaries drop from E67 757 to E54 205.60 if the 20 per cent reduction is implemented. The circular states that ‘it should not be automatic that holders of the affected positions now and in the future should immediately increase their pay packages to match the caps but any increase should be justified by performance and in line with company remuneration policies’.
Meanwhile, the PEU Circular stipulated that where there were existing contractual arrangements with the holders that were referred to in the circular, those arrangements could be negotiated with the board for a transition to the circular and the transition would only be allowed up to the minimum level.
“The board will request approval for the transition of these positions to the minimum level of the new circular from the line minister. A supporting schedule on the breakdown of the pay packages and the free allowances should be attached to the letter of request to the minister and also attached in your contracts as an addendum for audit purposes,” states the circular.
This translates to the fact that a CEO would seek a minister earning less than him or her to increase his or her salary. An economist, who gave his opinion on condition of anonymity, said the CEOs should also get a pay cuts. The economist said if the remuneration of the CEOs would be left without being minimised; it would compromise the relationship of the CEOs, Board and the heading ministry. The scholar said in order to strengthen the ability of members of the governing body to apply an objective and independent mindset in performing their roles and responsibilities; they should avoid conflict of interest.
“They will be seeking favours from the political head like extension of contracts and subventions from a ministry that will be losing a large sum of its budget to finance the pay of the CEO,” the scholar said.
There are currently 48 parastatals in the country and some of them were not set to make profit at all while others despite their mandate being to generate profits, they have reported deficits in recent years.
The Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, was engaged on what government was doing to deal with the deficits and the duplication of responsibilities by the parastatals, and he said: “Cabinet is currently considering possible changes to some of the parastatals. It will form part of the strategic plan that Cabinet is working on.”

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