1st September, 2006.
FROM: Mr T Levitt.
TO: Ms F Chohan-Khota,: Chairperson Portfolio Committee, Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Dear Ms Chohan-Khota,
I write to you in my private capacity on the issue of the lack of adjustment of certain allowances attached to our remuneration which will shortly be under discussion and consideration by Parliament. I have chosen to keep this to the bare minimum as I am sure that you do not require my motivation.
Please allow me to make the following points, based on the recommendations by the ICRPOB contained in Gazette 28929 dated 9th June 2006. (The President's proclamation has not been made available as yet).
Our medical aid contributions from the State have not been adjusted since 2001 when they were capped at R10 14 per month. You are aware that medical inflation is far in excess of other inflation. There has not even been a normal inflation-related increase!
Our housing allowance has been capped at R70.000 for several decades now and this amount is hardly sufficient for the deposit on a dwelling these days.
Insofar as the Regional Court is concerned the vehicle finance allowance has been 'frozen' for the second consecutive year. The ICRPOB is with respect, in the process of bringing us in line with them, mistakenly comparing our scheme with that of other Office Bearers or Public Servants whose scheme is not subject to the same prescripts as ours.
It is logical that an intended overall 5.75% increase will not be implemented if several allowances, which constitute part of the remuneration, are also not adjusted likewise. This means that the adjustments have not kept up with inflation which in turn can be said to equate to a reduction in real terms of the total remuneration. The remuneration of magistrates may only be reduced by an Act of Parliament and then only as part of an overall public economic measure. (See the Canadian case of the Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court. (P.E.I.) (1997) 3 SCR. 3).
You are aware that the Magistrates Commission has no further involvement in these matters. Magistrates should obviously not become involved in attempting to have these allowances adjusted in the Central Bargaining Chamber as they are not Public Servants. Indeed in the draft report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional
Development and the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs on 8th June 2006 it was correctly stated that" the new system for the regulation of the remuneration of magistrates was aimed at ensuring that magistrates do not participate in activities associated with the collective bargaining system and as such gives effect to the views expressed by the Constitutional Court in the van Rooyen judgment".
There is therefore no other recourse than to bring the above to your attention for your kind consideration.