National Assembly Speaker and the chairperson of NCOP handed Parliament CEO Xolile George a salary hike of almost 70% – taking his pay to R4.4 million annually – meaning he earns more than President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to a Sunday Times report, National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and NCOP chair Amos Masondo quietly approved the salary increase for George and then lied about it.

Xolile George was CEO of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) before applying for the role of Secretary to Parliament last year.

Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo publicly agreed in June 2022 that George would be paid R2.6 million a year and told other political parties and the public that George was happy to take a pay cut from his previous job as CEO of Salga, where he was paid over R5 million a year.

However, documents seen by the Sunday Times this week show that, within seven months, Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo increased George’s salary to R4.4 million a year, almost 70% more than the offer he accepted in June 2022, reported the Sunday Times.

Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George.

In contrast, while the salary of President Ramaphosa has not been gazetted yet, the budget for the presidency in 2023/24 estimated that the president’s salary would remain at R4.2 million (unchanged from 2022/23).

Other politicians, such as South Africa’s millionaire ministers and other public office bearers (POBs), were granted a 3% salary increase for this year. This means other notable politicians, such as Deputy President Paul Mashatile – as well as Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula and NCOP chair Masondo – are now earning R3 million annually.

Ministers, such as Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and others, now earn R2.58 million annually, while the average Minister of Parliament earns R1.2 million on the lower end of the pay scale.

This means, if the salary figure is true, that George is the highest-paid politician in the country, beating out President Cyril Ramaphosa by R200,000 and Deputy President Paul Mashatile – as well as Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula and NCOP chair Masondo – by R1.4 million.

To put these salaries into context, according to Stats SA, the average formally employed South African earns roughly R312,000 per year. This means George is paid 14 times more than the average South African, while Mashatile, Mapisa-Nqakula, and Masondo earn almost 10 times more.

If these salaries are not already out of touch with the rest of the country, these millionaire public servants also enjoy an entire spread of tax-free benefits and perks, all paid for by the South African taxpayer.

This includes over R3 billion worth of private VIP security, free electricity, water, transport and air travel, and multiple state-owned houses worth millions (including their maintenance and property taxes).

DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube told the Sunday Times that this revelation of Xolile George’s salary increase was “shocking”.

“This is more so because the speaker repeatedly assured parliament that the recruited candidate was to earn no more than R2.6 million as per the job advert. If true, these revelations prove that the speaker misled parliament – a deeply serious offence,” she said.

“To dishonestly advertise the role at a lower salary band knowing well that it would be increased post the fact excludes many other credible candidates who could have applied. This reeks of a plan to tailor the role for a specific candidate to the exclusion of others.”

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