You would be forgiven for wondering how much work gets done by South Africa’s members of parliament, given the media attention they’ve received for brawling or sleeping on the job.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs are at the centre of much of the attention, having taken on the role of parliament’s nap prefects. This started when one of their MPs accused the minister of international relations, Maite Nkoana Mashabane, of falling asleep during a debate in April on whether President Jacob Zuma should be impeached.
But then, a month later, their MPs made headlines for brawling with parliamentary security and their leader, Julius Malema, vowed never to let Zuma talk in parliament in peace again.
MPs are paid – and quite handsomely at that – to represent the public in parliament from money paid to the government by taxpayers.
Africa Check looks at how much South Africa’s MPs earn, what they actually do and, from the available data and try to identify the hardest-working MPs from the available data.
What do MPs earn?
The highest-paid MPs are the speaker of the national assembly and the chairman of the national council of provinces (NCOP). Those positions are held, at present, by Baleka Mbete and Thandi Modise. Both are members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
As of 1 April 2015, both earned R2,716,798 a year, according to the government gazette. That averages out to R226,400 a month.
Their salaries are the same as the deputy president’s, an indication of how senior they are. They also earn more than cabinet ministers, who get R2,309,262 a year, or R192,439 a month.
The next highest-paid MP is the deputy speaker of the national assembly, who earns R1,901,726 a year, which is the same as a deputy cabinet minister. That works out to R158,477 a month. At present, Lechesa Tsenoli is the deputy speaker.
The house chairman comes next on the pay scale. This is currently Cedrick Frolick, who earns R1,765,935 a year.
After him comes a group of senior MPs – the chief whip of the majority party, the chief whip of the NCOP, and the parliamentary council president and deputy president – who earn R1,494,192 a year. The leader of the opposition, currently Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance, is also among this group. Their monthly average works out at R124,516.
Leaders of minority parties, such as Julius Malema and Bantu Holomisa from the UDM, earn R1,222,606 a year or R101,885 a month.
The lowest salary an MP in the national assembly or NCOP earns is R1,033,434 a year, or R86,120 a month.
Africa Check sent a number of emails and made multiple phone calls to the office of the parliamentary spokesperson to find out what benefits MPs receive over and above the annual remuneration listed in the government zazette, but parliament has yet to respond. (Note: We will update this factsheet when they do.)
A report by the People’s Assembly information website in 2014, listed a number of “perks” that MPs were entitled to, according to parliamentary spokesman, Estelle Randall. These included “86 single economy-class air journeys, accommodation in parliamentary villages, airport parking, reimbursed allowances for travel costs between airport and home and travel facilities for dependents, according to the policy for travel”.
Parking in the parliamentary precinct, a fully equipped office in the precinct and an information and communications technology allowance were also included.
MPs received annual salary increases based on recommendations by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, which were benchmarked on forecasts of average annual inflation. Since 2012, MPs have received annual increases of between 5 and 6%.
This article is part of a bigger piece by Africa Check – read the full story here.