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'They last had increases in 2019': Parliament defends MP salary increases

President Cyril Ramaphosa's annual salary and benefits increased from R2,989,845 to R3,079,540. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's annual salary and benefits increased from R2,989,845 to R3,079,540. File photo.
Image: GCIS.

Parliament has defended a 3% salary increase for MPs and ministers, saying the pay hike is not “tone deaf” because public representatives earn less compared to their counterparts globally. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week accepted recommendations to increase the salaries of politicians and other government officials by 3%.

The recommendations were made by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers.

Ramaphosa said in a government gazette the salary increases would be backdated to April last year and will apply to all categories of public office-bearers, including ministers and their deputies, premiers, MECs, MPs, MPLs, traditional leaders and judges. 

However, the salary increase was met with criticism from many, including the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), who said it was unfair to struggling public service workers.

Cosatu publicly called on Ramaphosa to reject the “tone deaf and embarrassing” recommendations.

In a statement, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said ministers, MPs, and MPLs last had salary increases in April 2019.

Mothapo said it was important the remuneration of public office bearers be adjusted to enable them to cope with the rising costs of living.

“While it is understandable that remuneration of public representatives would often spark a public debate given the transparency with which they are processed, constant scrutiny over their work as well as the socioeconomic challenges faced by the country, it must be appreciated that they do not determine their own remuneration,” he said. 

“Unlike in other countries, MPs do not play any role in the process of determining either their salaries or annual increments.”

Mothapo said SA's public representatives do not earn more than their counterparts in similar countries.

“A desktop survey suggests that SA public representatives do not earn anywhere higher than those of countries with similar GDP and population, among other considerations.

“It is also worth noting that, as an additional safeguard, unlike in several other countries, SA MPs are barred from undertaking any other remunerative responsibilities outside their parliamentary work. Should they take up such work, they are obligated to declare it for scrutiny in terms of the ethics code,” he said. 

He said salaries of MPs are published as a total remuneration package and not cost plus benefits.

“For example, if an ordinary MP earns say R1.1m per annum, that includes the basic salary, a flexible portion, a travel allowance, a political office-bearers’ allowance, and a contribution to the pension fund.

“Other deductions that will be taken from the salary includes tax (Pay as You Earn), medical aid, party contributions, village accommodation and others authorised by the individual MP like a bond or car instalment,” said Mothapo. 


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