Ramaphosa says R1 million-a-year MPs ‘struggle to make ends meet’

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that government will not scrap the numerous benefits or salaries offered to members of parliament, as some already struggle to make ends meet.

Ramaphosa said that MPs have not received salary increases in either 2020 or 2021, with the president vetoing recommendations made by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

“I kept cutting back because I felt that as public representatives, we should not be enjoying the largesse in a way that would bring out the ire of our people.

“I felt that we need to be constrained and have fewer benefits in terms of wage increase or salary increases.”

Ramaphosa said that it was very difficult to take benefits away from MPs, although it might be considered at a later date.

“For now, I think that MPs have really been cut to the bone. They have had no meaningful increase for quite a while and they may seem to many people that they are living it up and having a really great life, and believe me they are not.”

Ramaphosa said that it was problematic for MPs to work in Cape Town but live much further away. This means that MPs essentially have two homes – one where they live and one where they work.

He added that MPs are often time-bound to about five years, which means that they often keep their families at a separate home rather than uprooting them and bringing them to Cape Town.

“You buy one loaf of bread at home, you have to buy one here. You buy two loaves, two TVs, two of nearly everything. The work we impose on them is quite costly and many of them don’t end up making ends meet.”

Comments start 59 minutes into embedded video.

How much they earn

South Africa’s National Assembly has 400 members. The number of seats that a party has in the Assembly is in proportion to the number of voters that voted for it in the elections.

Ramaphosa approved the latest salaries for members of parliament in May based on recommendations made by Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

The recommendations are based on consultations with the minister of finance, the minister of Justice, the chief justice and Lower Courts Remuneration Committee, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“The commission has considered the fiscal condition of the country demonstrated in the previous financial years (2018/2019 and 2019/2020), the state’s wage bill and the impact of Public Office Bearers’ salary increment on the fiscus and general economic status of the country which has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, affordability of the fiscus, relevant legislation and all other factors referred to above.”

The data shows that a member of the national assembly can expect to earn, R1,137,933 in total remuneration – excluding benefits. A permanent delegate of the National Council of Provinces can expect to earn the same.

Party whips and leaders of opposition parties can expect to earn between R1.3 million and R1.6 million.

READ: All the free perks for ministers in the updated ministerial handbook

Position Total remuneration
Speaker: National Assembly R2 825 470
Chairperson: NCOP R2 825 470
Deputy Speaker: National Assembly R1 977 795
Deputy Chairperson: NCOP R1 977 795
House Chairperson R1 882 488
Chief Whip: Majority Party R1 600 467
Chief Whip: NCOP R1 600 467
Parliamentary Council: President R1 600 467
Parliamentary Council: Deputy President R1 600 467
Leader of Opposition R1 600 467
Chairperson of a Committee R1 495 755
Deputy Chief Whip: Majority Party R1 346 232
Chief Whip: Largest Minority Party R1 346 232
Leader of a Minority Party R1 346 232
Whip R1 249 236
Member: National Assembly R1 137 933
Permanent Delegate: NCOP R1 137 933

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Ramaphosa says R1 million-a-year MPs ‘struggle to make ends meet’