South African MP salaries vs the world

South African politicians have been hit with a pay freeze, setting their annual income at the same levels seen in 2016.

In the wider picture, a salary freeze puts South African MPs at a bit of a disadvantage when comparing the salaries of ‘equivalent’ government representatives across the globe.

Government pay is a controversial topic all over the world, where countries such as Brazil, Nigeria and many Eurozone nations face major backlash from citizens for paying politicians ‘excessive’ amounts, relative to the respective economic performance.

In late 2016, the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers made the recommendation that, in light of South Africa’s strained economic climate, government officials should not get a pay increase.

This was later approved and implemented by president Jacob Zuma.

Compared to far stronger economies, it’s understandable that at R1.03 million a year, South African MPs earn less. The US, for example, pays its senators R2.3 million a year- while Australian MPs receive a basic package of R2.03 million.

However, despite the freeze, South Africa is still on par with some other African nations, and far ahead the likes of India.

This is how South African MPs’ annual salaries compare with equivalents (senators, congressmen and women, etc) from around the world – looking at leading nations, as well as a few African countries and BRIC counterparts:

Country Annual MP Salary (local) Annual MP Salary (ZAR)
USA $174 000 R2 318 219
Australia A$199 040 R2 033 392
Canada $170 400 R1 732 616
Brazil Br404 400 R1 728 306
Germany €108 984 R1 543 782
UK £74 962 R1 249 848
France €85 200 R1 206 976
Russia Rb5 040 000 R1 159 500
Uganda Ush300 000 000 R1 113 974
South Africa R1 033 438
India r1 680 000 R333 671
Nigeria N2 026 400 R85 696

Currency conversions done on 13 February 2017

The salaries above are taken from the latest publicly-available information and do not cover all the additional extras that are attached with being in government roles, which can balloon significantly.

In Nigeria, for instance, senators have allowances totalling over 12.9 million naira every year (R545,000). Nigerian senators are also given a further 24.1 million niara (R1 million) every four years to cover accommodation, vehicle loans and possible severance allowance – this takes the total closer to R1.65 million.

Similar practices are seen all over the world, where total salaries – including benefits – are more than double the basic salaries. The same applies in South Africa, where the ministerial handbook grants many benefits, which are over and above the salary figures listed above.

In the UK, members of parliament are given a basic salary, with an additional “ministerial entitlement” depending on their role (minister, chancellor, whip, etc). This results in higher level salaries almost doubling in some cases.

A further caveat to the data is that it does not represent purchasing power parity.

A study done in 2015 (using global salary data from 2012) provided more insight into how salaries shift when adjusted for PPP.

The following graph shows the average monthly salary of politicians across the globe, in PPP dollars, from that study.

Read: How much Kings, Queens and other traditional leaders get paid in South Africa

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South African MP salaries vs the world