34 Ministers, 33 Deputy Ministers, 52 Parliamentary Chairpersons, 53 Parliamentary Whips, leaders of opposition parties, around 200 MPs, 9 Premiers, 90 MECs and 331 MPLs will pad their already hefty pay packages with another 5% windfall (backdated to April last year).
Deputy President Motlanthe gets an extra R118 000 for a R2, 5 million yearly package while Ministers will receive an additional R100 000 to raise their annual salary to R2,1 million. National MPs and MPLs will have to make do with R45 000 and R43 000 yearly increases respectively, taking their corresponding annual salaries to R934 000 and R904 000.
Local politicians have followed suit. In late January the City of Johannesburg announced that Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli had approved over R122 million in salary hikes for the city’s 230 councillors, 17 committee chairpersons, 10 mayoral committee members as well as the city council’s Chief Whip and Speaker. Accordingly, councillors in this oft-claimed ‘world class’ city will receive a R28 000 annual increase, elevating their yearly salary to R458 000 while committee chairpersons get a R39 000 hike which ups their annual salaries to just under R825 000.
All of these pay hikes are, in formal terms, separate from the incredible array of benefits and perks enjoyed by politicians but which are, in reality, part of the overall salary ‘package’. Despite repeated warnings by the Treasury to reign-in such ‘nice-to-haves’ alongside promises by the self-same politicians to practice self-restraint, Minister Tsenoli recently approved increased monthly cell phone allowances for South Africa’s 10 000+ local politicians of up to R3 300 for metro mayors and R1 650 for councillors.
Let’s put this all into perspective. The median wage of those South Africans fortunate enough to actually have a job stands at R2800 per month or R33 600 per year. With respect to the lowest paid South African politician, a local councillor, the pay hike for the Johannesburg variety is only slightly less than a worker’s median yearly wage. Even the monthly cell phone allowance of metro mayor’s is R500 more than what an average South African worker earns in the same period.
A comparison of worker and politician wage increases only further confirms the huge wage gap. Worker demands for wage increases, which politicians and capitalists continually decry as excessive, have, according to the Labour Research Service delivered an average increase since 2007of R957 per month. Meanwhile, a quick calculation of the same average for national politicians rings in at 5 times that of the workers.
When DA leader Helen Zille boasts about the DA-run Western Cape refusing the latest salary increases, we must ask her and her party why they have readily accepted all previous hikes and have nothing to say about the astronomical wage gap between DA politicians and the black majority that they so desperately want to vote for them.
While President Zuma or Minister Nzimande tells us that ANC/SACP politicians have an enduring commitment to redress wage inequality and are simply servants of the people, Zuma earns more than British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. South Africa’s national Ministers edge out their British peers by a cool R300 000+ and have raced ahead of the French by almost R1 million per year. Even if by smaller differentials, our national MPs are also better paid than their British and French counterparts.