Cabinet’s massive wage bill

2010-11-07 10:10

President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet wage bill is set to increase to an ­estimated R118 million after this week’s reshuffle.

Zuma added four new deputy ministers to the executive, increasing the total salary bill of deputy ministers from R43 million to R49 million.

A deputy minister, the National Treasury says, earns R1.5 million a year. The four will add to the wage bill an estimated R6 million in ­salaries a year.

This amount will rise even ­further because the state has to pay salaries to the staff employed to support the new deputy ministers.

The public service and administration department (DPSA) said this week that ministers were ­entitled to have nine officials in their private offices, while deputy ministers were allowed up to six.

The salaries of these officials vary widely from a messenger, who would be the lowest-paid worker, to a chief of staff, the most senior official. The latter could earn as much as R750 000 a year.

DPSA spokesperson Dumisani Nkwamba said staff members in the private offices of ministers and their deputies were either appointed on a contract linked to the term of office of the concerned minister or as full-time public servants.

“The ministers or deputy ministers may utilise staff from components within the department. This may be advantageous as such staff may return to their original ­components in the event of the ­termination of the term of office of the minister or deputy minister.”

Nkwamba said staff members employed on or after October 2 last year might only be appointed for the term of the incumbent minister or deputy minister, or for a period of up to three years.

“In the case of those appointed for the term of the minister on or after October 2 last year, their contracts will end at the end of the month following the month in which their minister or deputy minister relinquishes office.”

Nkwamba said each private office’s structure was determined ­in consultation with the public service and administration minister.

“The core staff of ministries is determined by the relevant minister, who may decide on the creation and grading of positions as identified in their structure, and as based on proven needs and provided that sufficient funds are available in terms of the medium-term ­expenditure framework of the ­relevant department,” he said.

Generally, ministers and deputy ministers need the services of a chief of staff, administrative secretary, media liaison officer, private secretary or appointments secretary, assistant appointments and administrative secretary, parliamentary officer, secretary or ­receptionist, registry clerk and aide, and a driver or messenger in their private offices.

Zuma, however, would have to contend with criticism from opposition parties and some within the ruling party about the rise in the head count in the president’s ­administration.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and an ANC national ­executive committee member ­expressed concern at the size of the executive.

“Why should you have a bloated presidency?” said the national ­executive committee member.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said Zuma had reshuffled his Cabinet to sort out the ANC’s internal problems ahead of its 2012 elective conference.

The DA’s Athol Trollip said the cost of the increased executive was cause for concern because it was unclear whether it would impact on the ­delivery of services.

“The cost implications of the ­increased Cabinet have been worsened by the Zuma administration’s failure to make good on its promise of making the necessary amendments to the Ministerial Handbook, which sets out guidelines for expenditure by members of the ­executive, to help curb excessive spending,” Trollip said.

Former president Nelson ­Mandela had 28 ministers and 12 deputies. His predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, had 28 ministers and 21 deputies. Zuma has 32 deputies and 34 ministers.

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