November 19, 2019

Tracking our taxes

Not all of our tax is spent on paying off the interest of Eskom’s debts. The “Policy on the Benefits of Executive Office” confirms what we have suspected all along. Yes, taxpayers do continue to support past presidents and deputy presidents for the rest of their lives. This is generally known, but the details have been kept under wraps, until now. Using the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the DA successfully has made this policy public.

It found that taxpayers cough up R3.5 million per year on each former president, and close to R2 million per year on each former deputy president. This doesn’t include generous pension benefits and the R3 million annual salary each former president continues to receive for the rest of their lives.

That’s a lot of money. As the DA points out, “Taking care of each of these former politicians each year costs South Africans the equivalent of a small businesses’ annual turnover.” Our economy needs those hypothetical small businesses, instead of this cost to the fiscus.

Taxpayers pay R3.5 million per year on each former president, and close to R2 million per year on each former deputy president.

Taxpayers foot the bill for all their home upgrades, security, motor vehicles, unlimited first class and business class flights, healthcare, even office space of up to 200 square meters that comes fully furnished and includes interior decoration, cleaning services, and crockery and cutlery, internet, mobile phones, fax machines, computers, printers, photocopiers and a staff contingent of six people: a personal assistant, two executive assistants, one driver, and two professional assistants. This for six former presidents, deputy presidents, and their families. So far.

The current recipients of taxpayers’ largesse are: FW de Klerk and spouse, Thabo Mbeki and spouse, Kgalema Motlanthe and spouse, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and spouse, Baleka Mbete and spouse, and Jacob Zuma and spouses. It doesn’t spell out if this continues in the event of any of them being found guilty of corruption.

After studying the policy the DA came to this conclusion: “While Zuma sits down to dinner tonight with the golden crockery and cutlery bought for him on the back of hardworking taxpayers, ten million South Africans will go to bed unemployed and desperate. A government that truly cares about fixing South Africa’s economic implosion would immediately cut the wastage of this policy and the ministerial handbook and similarly cut the public sector wage bill. Instead of splurging countless millions on current and former ANC cadres, we need to redirect spending to create a capable public service and an economy that creates opportunities for South African citizens to prosper.

The DA has done even more sums and worked out that a total of almost R30 billion ‑ R29.693 billion to be precise ‑ is spent on paying the salaries of the 27,650 middle and senior managers currently employed in the public service at national and provincial level. The DA describes this as a “top heavy” state and attributes it to “the ANC’s cadre deployment policy”.

According to the Minister of Public Service and Administration, this means that your average senior manager in national and provincial government takes home R1.4 million per year. And top level managers can take home just under R2 million per year.

If these amounts are hard for average South African to comprehend, it might help to place them in context. Your average police officer earns R169,466 per year; the average teacher’s salary is R273,209, and the average nurse earns R302,000. The opposition party described this as “vulgar”.

Moira Levy

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  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 11:07

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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