South Africa now has eight kings officially recognised by the government – with president Cyril Ramaphosa recognising Prince Misuzulu Sinqobile Zulu as king of the AmaZulu Kingship in March 2022.
Answering in a recent written parliamentary Q&A, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that these recognised kings are permitted to collect an annual salary as determined by the president.
This annual salary is based on the recommendations made by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, she said.
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.
Dlamini-Zuma outlined the salaries paid to each of the country’s kings over the last five years based on these recommendations:
|2016||R1 126 057|
|2017||R1 033 438|
|2018||R1 126 057|
|2019||R1 206 147|
|2020||R1 239 918|
|2021||R1 239 917|
Dlamini-Zuma said that ‘fringe benefits’ are also given to all traditional leaders by their respective provincial governments. However, she noted there is no specific information available on the benefits each province provides to their kings as this differences from province to province.
What other traditional leaders earn
South Africa most recently gazetted its salaries for traditional leaders in July 2021, with salaries offered to a wide range of roles, including the national and provincial houses of traditional leaders.
Note: NHTL = National House of Traditional Leaders | PHTL = Provincial House of Traditional Leaders
|King/Queen||R1 239 917|
|Chairperson: NHTL||R933 270|
|Full-Time Chairperson: PHTL||R768 678|
|Deputy Chairperson: NHTL||R713 811|
|Full-Time Deputy Chairperson: PHTL||R658 758|
|Full-Time Member: NHTL||R415 113|
|Full-Time Member: PHTL||R355 842|
|Senior Traditional Leader||R270 942|
The 2021 salaries represent an effective wage freeze, with president Cyril Ramaphosa also announcing that a number of senior officials including the deputy president and ministers would not be receiving an increase this year.
Traditional kings and senior leaders are symbolic figureheads in the country with little political power. However, these rulers play an important role in local disputes as well as in playing advisory roles to government – as well as in the lives of the traditional rural populations.