- Cyril Ramaphosa defended the salaries and benefits awarded to MPs.
- He said MPs "were not living it up".
- The president engaged with the media after his budget vote debate on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa sought to dismiss the notion that Members of Parliament were "living it up". He said they often "struggle to make ends meet".
In an engagement with the media on Thursday, Ramaphosa said MPs have been "cut to the bone because they have had no meaningful increase for quite a while".
This is despite the president signing off on a 2.8% increase for ordinary MPs, on top of their million-plus rand packages.
The president was asked, given the constraints facing the public purse, whether benefits awarded to MPs and ministers should be revisited.
He said this is because they usually have to have two houses - one in Parliament and one where they come from.
"It may seem to many people that they are living it up and they have a very good life - believe you me, it is not," Ramaphosa said.
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The president said only if South Africa's economic situation worsens would the perks of MPs and public representatives be looked at again.
He did not weigh in on a question that the public purse was used to fund former ministers.
He did, however, defend public funds being used to ferry ministers across the country.
This week, Parliament said it cannot continue to fund some of the benefits of former members of the executive.
Between 2014 and 2020, the taxpayer forked out R45.3 million on business class travel for former ministers, deputies, premiers and their spouses, Parliament previously said.
Parliament also pays for medical aid contributions enjoyed by former members of provincial legislatures.
Ramaphosa was also asked about ministers who refuse to answer questions in Parliament, saying they should not hide behind the work done by the president.
He said he was working to make the Presidency the centre of government, so that it constantly has a line of sight on the work done by government entities.
This, he said, would eliminate silos in the government.
Ramaphosa also denied an accusation, made by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, that he and members of his executive were evading her office.