7 government ‘bosses’ that get paid more than the president in South Africa

 ·11 Jun 2024

The President in South Africa may be the head of government, but they are not the best-paid government employee.

Government pay is often cited as a major problem in South Africa when considering poor service delivery and the country’s income inequality, which is the worst in the world.

“We have one of the most unequal societies in the world coupled with one of the highest unemployment rates, yet the public service in South Africa is the highest paid in the world as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki.

Using data from the OECD, Mbeki said that salaries for the public sector in South Africa cost over 14% of GDP, which is far above the 5% for other emerging states, such as Chile and Indonesia.

BusinessTech has thus decided to look at the salaries of the top officials in all the major government institutions.

For this comparison, we examined state-owned enterprises, Chapter Nine institutions, ministers, MPs and companies that involve substantial government contributions.

The privately owned South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is included, as the President elects seven of the 14 directors, including the governor and three deputy governors.

Thus, the SARB’s Governor Lesetja Kganyago is the second highest-paid “government” employee, earning R8.8 million for the 2022/23 financial year.

Our comparison showed that seven government officials, including SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter and Parliament CEO Xolile George, earn more than the President’s R4.2 million annual salary.

Overall, former UJ Vice-Chancellor Tshilidzi Marwala earned the most of any government employee, with an annual salary of R9.2 million, News24 reported.

Institutions also have different dates for their financial years, so we’ve used the latest data made available.

For instance, former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s pay is the latest remuneration figure given for the role, even though he left the organisation in February 2023 and has been followed by interim and permanent replacements Calib Cassim and Dan Marokane, respectively.

Tshilidzi MarwalaFormer UJ Vice-Chancellor*R9 200 000
Lesetja KyanyagoSARB GovernorR8 823 000
Portia Derby Former Transnet CEOR8 500 000
Andre De Ruyter Former Eskom CEO R7 111 000
Tsakani MalulekeAuditor-GeneralR7 061 000
Edward KieswetterSARS CommissionerR6 384 000
Xolile George Parliament CEOR4 400 000
Cyril RamaphosaPresidentR4 200 000
Nomkhita MonaSAPO CEOR3 900 000
Raymond ZondoChief JusticeR3 072 480
MinistersCabinet MinsterR2 689 937
Provincial Premiers PremierR2 531 760
Kholeka GcalekaPublic ProtectorR2 458 019
Tshiamo Maluleka-DisemeloICASA CEOR2 328 429
Nashilo BolokaFPB CEOR2 195 174
David Luka MosomaCRL Rights Commissioner CommissionerR2 187 000
*Highest paid VC in South Africa, with pay updated to reflect most recent data

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