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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Is Ramaphosa’s proposed salary hike justified amid economic struggles?

Is the proposed salary hike for Ramaphosa and other high-ranking officials justified amidst SA's ongoing economic struggles and debate?

The recommended salary increases for government officials – including President Cyril Ramaphosa – was published by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

The commission holds the responsibility of providing yearly suggestions concerning salaries, allowances and benefits; ensuring they can carry out their duties effectively.

Ministers’ salary increases

The salary increases was suggested after the commission consulted with various ministers, the chief justice, and other committees and departments. The following factors were taken in to consideration:

  • The fiscal condition of the state.
  • The wage bill.
  • The impact of salary increases on public finances.
  • Previous determinations.
  • Stakeholders’ submissions.

Based on this, the commission recommended a 3.8% increase in remuneration for all categories of public office bearers.

This increase is linked to the forecast average inflation of 4.8% determined by the National Treasury, but has been reduced by 1% in light of the above-mentioned factors.

So how much is Ramaphosa getting?

Do note that the increases are still subject to Ramaphosa and Parliament’s approval. That said, as per the proposed salary hike, the president’s salary would be R3.2 million.

Ramaphosa was given a 3% increase in April 2022, taking his salary from R2.9 million in 2021, to just over R3 million the following year.

While President Ramaphosa approves Cabinet members’ salary hikes, Parliament will be responsible for approving his salary as president.

Beyond the paycheck

It should also be noted that in addition to their salaries, ministers are provided with vehicles, VIP drivers, and police protection.

Their spouses are allowed to travel for official purposes at the expense of the respective department, and they fly in business class (after choosing the most affordable option among three prices).

Ministers also get to live care-free in state-owned houses equipped with cutting-edge security services. Which brings us to the next point.

Average salary in South Africa

The public discourse around government officials’ salary emphasises the ongoing debate around high-ranking members of Parliament, especially when taking South Africa’s economic climate into account.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa is earning R270 000 per month, the average South African, according to Stats SA’s Quarterly Employment Survey, earns R26 000 per month.[1]

(And we don’t even have electricity.)

This is an increase from 4.5% when compared to the previous quarter (R24 813) and an increase of 9.2% during the fourth quarter of 2021 (R23 828).

Poverty in South Africa

Even then, the ‘average salary’ is not an accurate reflection of earnings in South Africa, especially not when 18.2 million people here live in extreme poverty (as of 2022).

As per Statista, those 18.2 million South Africans live on less than $1.90 dollars a day – around R35, given the exchange rate’s fluctuations.

This figure is projected to reach 18.5 million by 2025, said Statista’s research team.[2]

Is Ramaphosa’s salary justified?

I’m not going to answer this question. However, I will say that according to World Bank estimates in 2022, South Africa’s population is poorer on average.[3]

The poverty rate has increased, the standards of living has decreased and social stability is as fragile as a sandcastle on a Durban beach.

There is hardly any balance between income support for the poor and unemployed, and managing the economy’s fiscal risks.

Moreover, we haven’t had stable electricity supply in 14 years, and let’s not forget Ramaphosa’s hidden couch millions.

But I digress.


[1] Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES); Stats SA; September 2022.

[2] Number of people living in extreme poverty in South Africa 2016-2025; Statista; Saifaddin Galal, 16 December 2022.

[3] Poverty & Equity and Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment Global Practices; World Bank; October 2022.

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