Free houses to VIP security – How much you’re paying for South Africa’s 75 millionaire ministers

 ·10 Jul 2024

Preliminary estimates indicate that South Africans could expect to pay at least R1.2 billion annually for the country’s 75 Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

This is according to an analysis conducted by BusinessTech into the average annual costs of these National Executive positions.

According to the analysis, the estimated annual costs of South Africa’s Ministers and Deputies will be made up of:

  • Ministers and Deputies salaries – R181.33 million;
  • Support staff salaries – R467.33 million;
  • Other perks – R553 million (data from 6th administration, thus it is likely to be higher in the 7th).

This is excluding the estimated 97 luxury residences for Ministers and Deputy Ministers in Pretoria and Cape Town, which are collectively worth another R1 billion.

South Africa’s National Executive, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, including the Deputy President, Ministers, and their Deputies, was announced on June 30, 2024, after weeks of intense negotiations.

The ANC lost its outright majority in the May general elections, and needed to arrange a coalition if it wanted to form part of the new government, labeling it a ‘Government of National Unity (GNU).’

Going against a 2019 report by the Department of Public Service and Administration previous promises of reducing South Africa’s oversized executive, Ramaphosa looked to accommodate the wants of the ANC, its alliance partners, and members of the GNU and increased its size.

There are now 32 ministers and 43 deputy ministers from members of the ANC, DA, IFP, PA, PAC, UDM, FF Plus, AL Jama-ah, and GOOD parties.

Senior lecturer at Wits Business School Paul Kaseke previously wrote that “nobody would really mind how large the cabinet is if there were no financial implications attached.”

However, this is far from the case.

Ministers and Deputies Salaries

These 75 positions chosen by Ramaphosa do not come cheap, with their salaries alone (excluding perks) costing the taxpayer around R181.33 million

PositionNumber of positions2024/25 annual salary (excluding perks) per positionTotal
Deputy Minister43R2,215,220R95,254,460

These salaries are the result of a recently approved 2.5% increase.

This excludes their additional perks of the state paying for support staff, official vehicles, homes, travel, allowances and billions of rands spent on private VIP security.

Support staff salaries

Looking at the support staff for Ministers and Deputies, according to the Guide for Members of the Executive, each Minister is entitled to 11 staff members, while Deputies are entitled to seven each.

Using information provided by the Guide for Members of the Executive, as well as information provided by former Minister of Public Service and Administration Noxolo Kiviet earlier this year on government salary levels, the remuneration (excluding other benefits) for Ministers’ and Deputy Minister’s fleet of staff are:


PositionAllocated staff for MinisterAverage annual salary
Chief of Staff (SL 14)1R1,454,487
Private and Appointment Secretary (SL 13)1R1,232,289
Media Liaison Officer (SL 13)1R1,232,289
Parliamentary/Legislature Officer (SL 13)1R1,232,289
Community Outreach Officer (SL 11)1R811,560
Administrative Support and Co-ordination: (SL 11) 1R811,560
Parliamentary and Cabinet Support (SL 11)1R811,560
Assistant Appointment and Administrative Secretary (SL 9)1R462,972
Receptionist (SL 5)1R216,876
Household Aide (SL 3)2R319,758 (R159,879 x 2)
SL = Salary level

This means that with South Africa’s 32 ministries, around R275 million from state coffers will go towards the annual salaries of ministers’ fleet of staff.

Deputy Minister:

PositionAllocated staff for Deputy MinisterAverage annual salary
Head of Office (SL 13)1R1,232,289
Private and Appointment Secretary (SL 12)1R1,080,681
Parliamentary and Cabinet Support (SL 11)1R811,560
Community Outreach Officer (SL 11)1R811,560
Receptionist (SL 5)1R216,876
Household Aide (SL 3)2R319,758 (R159,879 x 2)
SL = Salary level

With 43 Deputy Ministers, around R192.33 million will be spent on the annual salaries their staff.

Thus, at least R467.33 million will be spent on the salaries of support staff of the country’s 75 Ministers and Deputies per year, up by around R80.33 million from the R387 million estimation for the previous administration.

Other perks

On top of this, according to data collected by the Democratic Alliance (DA) through parliamentary questions, South African taxpayers paid an average of over R553 million for the VIP protection, international travel, vehicles and alternative electricity, water and security for the last administration’s 30 Ministers and 34 Deputy Ministers. 

This is expected to skyrocket, given that Ramaphosa has added 11 positions since, which includes that of the DA, once vocal critics about the size of Cabinet.

Average per year (6th administration)
VIP protectionR512,000,000
International travelR20,277,221
Alternative electricity, water and securityR14,500,000
Source: DA Parliamentary Questions

In 2019, the Department of Public Service and Administration submitted a report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on the state’s macro-reorganisation and called for reducing the cabinet – which Ramaphosa said that he planned to do.

However, the opposite occurred.

The DA, who compiled some of the above-mentioned information (other perks), has long advocated for a much smaller and leaner national executive, calling for a grand total of 15 ministries.

Additionally, in 2023, when the DA was in the opposition benches, MP Dr Leon Schreiber (now Minister of Home Affairs) tabled the Cut Cabinet Perks Bill which it said is designed “to rein in the obscene waste of valuable public resources that currently goes towards funding the Rockstar lifestyles,” of Ministers and Deputies.

But now that the party is part of the biggest-ever Cabinet, it has not been vocal about these issues and it is unclear whether the bill will find new life.

Solly Malatsi, the DA’s national spokesperson and recently appointed as Communications minister, told News24 that the size of the Cabinet was the president’s prerogative.

“We find ourselves in a unique era of a coalition government, in which the size of the Cabinet has been determined by the president,” said Malatsi.

“For us, the priority right now is to ensure that we can play a meaningful role in this administration and to have Cabinet ministers perform ethically, excellently and diligently in this administration. I’m going to leave it at that,” he said.

Read: Who controls what: How government has been split among the ANC, DA and other parties

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