Free water and power isn’t half of it — here’s how much ministers earn and some of the perks they receive

10 October 2022 - 14:27
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President Cyril Ramaphosa made changes to the ministerial handbook. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made changes to the ministerial handbook. File photo.
Image: GCIS.

While many taxpayers struggle to make ends meet, ministers and their deputies — who earn a salary of between R2.5 and R2m a year — do not pay a cent for municipal services such as water and electricity at their official residences. 

This week, City Press reported that the ministerial handbook has been amended to remove a cap on municipal utilities for ministers and deputy ministers. 

According to the previous handbook, the public works department was responsible for providing water and electricity, provided the cost is limited to R5,000 per month.

“The department responsible for public works shall be responsible for the costs associated with the provision of water and electricity to a state-owned residence, provided such cost is limited to R5,000 per month per state-owned residence. Any cost in excess of R,5000 per month per state-owned residence will be borne by the relevant member,” it said. 

How much do ministers and deputies earn?

The amendment by President Cyril Ramaphosa comes months after he announced a salary increases of 3% for politicians and other government officials.

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

Ministers earn R2,473,682 annually, while deputy ministers’ salaries are R2,037,129.

Their remuneration packages include:

  • a basic salary component equal to 60% of the total package, which constitutes the pensionable salary;
  • an amount of R120,000 per annum as per section 8(1)(d) of the Income Tax Act. This amount is included in the basic salary component;
  • an employer’s pension benefit contribution equal to 22.5% of pensionable salary;
  • a flexible portion for the remaining amount of the total remuneration.

Defending the 3% salary increase after a backlash, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said ministers, MPs  and MPLs last had salary increases in April 2019, and the hikes were necessary for the politicians to cope with the increase in the cost of living.

Other perks?

In 2019, AfricaCheck looked at the cabinet handbook and detailed car allowances, official vehicles and free accommodation for ministers. 

It also mentions departments paying for domestic workers and the department of public works paying for renovations at state-owned homes used by ministers.

The handbook mentions cabinet members and their spouses may book flight tickets for official international trips and six domestic flights for official use per year. National Members and their spouses are jointly eligible to twenty (20) single domestic economy class flight tickets per annum at the expense of their department. 

They are encouraged to use VIP airport lounges for security purposes. Dependent children get six single economy class flights per year to travel to their parents.

When travelling on official business, members, spouses and dependent children stay in hotels in line with their "status", which can be five-star rated.

It reported the cabinet members’ department can pay for all “reasonable” out-of-pocket expenses connected with the subsistence of the members, their spouses or family members who need to accompany them when travelling on official international business.

Aren’t we already paying for their power?

In July, City Press claimed the department of public works spent R1.3m last year to install generators at ministers’ houses, and another R681,000 this year.

The publication said the cost of running the generators rose from R31,750 last year to more than R620,000 in the first half of 2022.

It emerged that government splurged taxpayers’ money on 24 luxury vehicles for 17 ministers and deputy ministers between 2019 and 2021.

The Sunday Times reported ministers and their deputies spent about R19m on luxury vehicles. 

Some vehicles cost more than the R700,000 spending limit imposed in the November 2019 version of the ministerial handbook. The handbook was amended to introduce a R700,000 cap on ministerial vehicles but was later increased to R800,000 by a Treasury directive.

Is Ramaphosa’s Hyde Park home exempt from load-shedding?

City Power denied there were areas or houses, including Ramaphosa’s Hyde Park home, exempt from load-shedding.

“There is no person or institution within City Power supply areas that is exempted from load-shedding. This includes the president, premier and mayor,” City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena told The Citizen

The department of public works and infrastructure said it was not responsible for load-shedding schedules in any area or government building.

This after many questioned why government buildings and state accommodation in Pretoria were not affected by load-shedding.

“For the past few days, the department has been inundated with enquiries regarding load-shedding at Bryntirion Estate which houses members of the executive,” said the department.

“We want to place it on record that as much as we are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of Bryntirion Estate and other properties that house members of the executive, we are not responsible for determining load-shedding, the places and times when it should occur.

“It is the mandate and discretion of municipalities and Eskom to do that. This is why municipalities are able to switch off government buildings when they default, not us, because that is not our area of responsibility.”

The department said in the City of Cape Town, only the president and deputy president’s houses remain lit during load-shedding. 

“As for ministerial houses, they experience the effects of load-shedding like everybody else in the neighbourhood as per the municipal load-shedding schedule.”


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