South African soldiers have been granted a pay rise months after they
staged heavy protests over salaries. Observers have indicated that timely salary increase is a moral booster not only for the military but also for football fans who will be streaming to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday announced a salary increase at a
Reconciliation Day commemoration. “As Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, it is my pleasure to announce increases in the salaries of members of the SANDF, who are on salary levels 2 to 12, from privates to colonels or the occupational class of military practitioner,” he said.
Jacob Zuma said the increases would range from 2% to 65% and would come into effect on December 1 2009.
In August 2009, nearly 3 000 soldiers from the South African defence force
clashed with the police on the streets of Pretoria during demonstrations over pay and poor service conditions within the military.
The image of demonstrating soldiers clashing with the police in the heart of South Africa’s administrative capital sent shockwaves throughout the country. Pictures of the clashes where shown for days on national television.
On August 26, the troops had left their barracks and marched to the Union Buildings as well as Zuma’s offices, insisting on seeing the president while making demands for a 30% pay rise.
Police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the demonstrators, who
reportedly became unruly and attacked police cars.
The strike in South Africa caused much uneasiness within the political classes of neighbouring Zimbabwe, as some soldiers in several bases were rumoured as planning to take the same action.
In a statement released after Zuma’s announcement, the soldiers said the
rise was a “critical step” to boost morale. “Improved salaries are an important first step towards improved service conditions for soldiers,” a statement from the soldiers read.
“Yesterday’s [Wednesday] pronouncement by President Zuma, that, ‘we
want to invest in the development of the defence force and the young
people who are drawn into this noble calling of defending the
country,’ will boost morale and send the clear signal to soldiers that
an era of relative military neglect is over” continues the statement.
The timely salary increase is a moral booster not only for the military but also for football fans who will be streaming to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
According to observers, this move will help curb any planned strikes ahead of the world cup as the services of the totality of the South African armed forces may be required to secure football fans and prevent crime.