South Africa’s MPs earn a salary of over R1 million a year, making the battle for votes in the coming elections as much a battle for livelihoods as it is a battle of ideals and ideologies.
But how many votes does a party need to secure to get their hands on this lucrative position for one of its members?
Using basic math, with 400 seats in parliament available, to earn a single seat for an MP a party would have to secure 0.25% of the total vote.
With 26.7 million registered voters for 2019, and an estimated turnout of 70%, this means a party would need about 46,725 votes to get a seat at the table.
However, South Africa’s complex proportional representation system makes it difficult to pin down an accurate estimation.
In 2014 one seat in the National Assembly represented 45,892 votes, according to fact-checking website Africa Check – but the representation system means that a smaller party doesn’t necessarily have to hit that minimum to take a seat in parliament.
In a blog post explaining South Africa’s proportionality system, Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said that a party needs about 40,000 to 45,000 votes for every seat allocated in the National Assembly, but the complicated formula used to calculate the seats provides a slight advantage to the very small parties vying for only one seat.
“Such a party may get that one seat with as little as 30,000 to 35,000 votes,” he said.
“If a party does not get the minimum of about 35,000 votes nationally, it does not get a seat in the NA and all the votes cast for that party are wasted votes.”
While South Africa’s leading political parties will ultimately decide who will represent them in parliament’s various committees and in the executive, just making it to the National Assembly will earn you a healthy salary.
According to the official gazetted salaries for the 2018/19 year, a member of the National Assembly will earn R1,106,940 – or R92,250 per month.
By comparison, the leader of a minority party can expect to earn R1,309,563.
Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers
|Deputy President||R2 825 470|
|Ministers||R2 401 633|
|Deputy Ministers||R1 977 795|
Members of the National Assembly and Permanent Delegates to the National Council of Provinces
|Speaker of the National Assembly
Chairperson of the NCOP
|R2 825 470|
|Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP
|R1 977 795|
|House Chairperson||R1 882 488|
|Chief Whip of the Majority Party
Chief Whip of the NCOP
Parliamentary Council President
Parliamentary Council Deputy President
Leader of the Opposition
|R1 600 467|
|Chairperson of a Committee||R1 455 015|
|Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party
Chief Whip of the largest Minority Party
Leader of a Minority Party
|R1 309 563|
|Whip||R1 215 210|
|Member of the National Assembly
Permanent Delegate of the NCOP
|R1 106 940|