SA faces a stark choice: risk strikes by as many as 1.3-million government workers or meet their pay demands and jeopardise its credit rating. After years of above-inflation increases, public-sector unions now want nothing less than "double-digit" raises from April 1 2018, in addition to better housing benefits. The National Treasury has provided for average pay increases of no more than 7.3% in each of the next three fiscal years. The annual inflation rate is 5.1%. "We cannot afford the government wage bill," Mike Schussler, the chief economist at, a research house, said in Johannesburg. "We have got to either give people an increase below the rate of inflation, or we are going to have to employ fewer people." Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba tabled a bleak picture of the nation’s finances last month with his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), with growth and revenue falling below projections, while public debt may exceed 60% of GDP by 2021. An inability to...

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