What do ministers in Cabinet get in terms of salaries and perks? This is the question on everyone’s mind. Africa Check looked at the numbers and has the answer.
President Ramaphosa vowed to reduce the size of Cabinet. And he has – by eight people. We currently have 64 members in total, compared to 72 before.
And even though several departments were joined, some now boast two deputy ministers due to the ‘enormity of the workload.’ According to Africa Check, Ramaphosa only saved South Africa about R19m.
Our Cabinet still ranks as one of the biggest in the world. The United States, Japan, China and Germany, for example, have smaller cabinets. In many countries, a single minister is in charge of more than one portfolio.
Germany has 16 cabinet members of which 14 are ministers, while the United States has 17 members in total in their cabinet, followed by Japan with 20 and China with 28.
The perks of being a minister
Private cars and official vehicles
Members of Cabinet get 25% of their salary towards a private vehicle. This includes the maintenance and running cost, as well as insurance. This enables most ministers to buy an Audi A4 or a Mercedes Benz C Class sedan.
In addition, ministers and deputy ministers are allowed to purchase a vehicle for official use in Pretoria and Cape Town. These vehicles are replaced when it reaches the 120 000 km mark, or after five years.
Cabinet members get to live free-of-charge in one state-owned residence. If they require an additional residence for official purposes, they need to pay market-related rent.
The State will also pay for renovations and cleaning services at official residences and private houses. How does this translate in numbers? Africa Check explains:
So R2,401,633 per minister x 1% / 12 = R2,001 per month. For this amount an ordinary South African can rent a “nice spacious room” in Boksburg or a “flat” in Gugulethu.
If vehicle and accommodation perk sounds excessive, hold your horses, we haven’t discussed travel yet. Cabinet members and their families fly first class on international trips. Within SA, they also get the choice of any hotel.
In addition, both minister and their spouses are entitled to 30 single business class flights per year within South Africa. Their children get six single economy class flights per year. As for train trips:
“If the cabinet member is not for flying, the handbook allows for them to travel by train – including South Africa’s luxury Blue Train. Rates for the Pretoria/Cape Town route range from R18 405 to R43 035 one way.”
There are other perks too. The State will pay for “reasonable out-of-pocket” expenses, such as gratuities and reading material. However, this excludes “alcohol beverages not consumed with a meal.”
Their spouses and children also get to enjoy this benefit. But here’s the shocker. According to the Ministerial Handbook, “slips only need to be supplied if at all possible.” Say what? Africa Check adds:
“Because of all the variables and unknowns, it is impossible to predict what the cabinet will cost South Africans beyond the members’ salaries and their private car allowances.”
Cabinet member salaries
Members of the national executive get a 4% salary increase per year, as recommended by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.
But this year, President Ramaphosa decided not to follow the recommendations, and announced a freeze on all salary increases for the 2018/19 financial year.
While the salaries remain the same as during the 2017/18 financial year, ministers still earn a pretty penny. Cabinet members will receive an annual salary of R2 401 633, while deputy ministers get R1 977 795.
The deputy president’s salary will remain at R2 825 470. As for President Ramaphosa’s salary, Africa Check explains that he doesn’t get a say over his own salary:
“The commission’s recommendations are debated in parliament and then submitted to a vote. The last time parliament debated the president’s salary was in March 2016 when the “effective salary” was set at R2 874 851. Any changes to the above requires consideration of the Commission’s recommendations and [the] National Assembly resolution.”
How do MPs earn their salaries?
Africa Check explained in 2017 that Ministers are “accountable, collectively and individually, to parliament and have “to provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control”, according to the constitution.”
MPs can either be a member of the National Assembly or the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The NCOP’s members ensure that the interests of the provinces are taken into account in the workings of national government, according to parliament’s website.
MPs’ work is divided into parliamentary sessions and constituency periods. An analysis by Africa Check of the information in the Composite Parliamentary Programme 2015 shows that the portion of days allocated for constituency work on the programme is close to 40% of the working year.
Constituency periods are set aside for MPs to be available to the people they represent, reporting back on what is happening in parliament and the like.