We’re going to need the smallest violin you can find: President Cyril Ramaphosa went in to bat for the serving MPs of South Africa on Thursday evening, claiming that many of our elected officials are ‘being cut to the bone’ – DESPITE enjoying a seven-figure annual salary.

Cyril Ramaphosa defends ‘financially bereft’ MPs

Cautious of the ‘trying times’ South Africans currently find themselves in, Ramaphosa also spoke about the possibility of cutting benefits – such as free flights and premium medical aid packages – for the 400 MPs who make up the sixth Parliament of Mzansi. However, he’d do this with a heavy heart – arguing that politicians’ expenses can pile up quickly.

“Benefits enjoyed by MPs… things like free flights, medical aid, and pension allowances, should they be cut? Well, these members have gone two years without a pay increase. Once the Commission makes a recommendation, I’ve had to say no to these increases. When cutting back, public representatives should not enjoy the largesse.”

“In a trying time, yes, MP benefits may be reviewed. But these people have been cut to the bone, their wages haven’t moved. It may seem like MPs are living it up, enjoying a great life, but they are not – the centre where we work is in Cape Town, so working in Parliament means having two homes, for a job that’s time-bound. Many cannot make ends meet.”

Has Ramaphosa misread the room?

Ramaphosa compared the situation of our MPs to people living a double life. He argues that they need two houses, two shopping bills, and indeed, two of everything if they don’t live near the legislative headquarters in the Mother City. However, despite these factors, the pleas for poverty aren’t likely to gain much sympathy.

Millions of citizens have had to make do with R350 a month since the pandemic hit, through the special SRD payments – and even they have expired now. Unemployment is up to almost 33%, whereas almost 70% of the youth cannot find work. Being an MP might be a demanding job, but the perks almost certainly outweigh the downsides.

What do MPs earn in South Africa

  • If you serve solely as an MP, your annual wage works out to be R1.14 million.
  • That’s $77 000 a year, roughly – and it’s a wage that puts elected officials in SA’s top 1% of earners.
  • On a monthly breakdown, MPs in South Africa earn R95 000 – or $6 450 – every four-and-a-bit weeks.

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Presh JM Reporter

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