President Jacob Zuma's proposed freeze on salary increases for one year would apply to both the private and public sector, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Thursday.
"The announcement by the president covered both the private sector as well as the public sector... so it would certainly include the public sector," Patel told SAfm.
He was responding to a question posed by listeners on whether Zuma would also take a pay hike freeze.
"We've got to move beyond the cynicism," said Patel.
"Everybody must show some restraint. We've got to do it in the public sector, we've got to do it in the private sector."
The minister was speaking after Zuma held a meeting with business, labour and civil society on Wednesday to discuss how to recover investor confidence in the economy.
This was where Zuma reportedly called on all CEOs and executive directors in the public sector and senior executives in the public sector to agree to a freeze on increases in salaries and bonuses over the next 12 months.
Patel said: "The intention [of the proposed freeze]... is to respond to an enormous frustration that exists among sections of the workforce at the high income inequalities in South Africa.
"If we want to rebuild the economy... and act with one vision, we need a sense of shared responsibility.
"So this is an important symbolic act."
Patel said during the discussions, "all parties recognised that our current collective bargaining system is broadly sound...
"At the same time, very legitimate grievances have emerged during this period."
Zuma called the meeting in a bid to end a wave of violent wildcat strikes that has hit the country in the past weeks, sparked by the shooting of 34 striking miners by police at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg in August.