Less than half of ministers confirm salary cuts

Three months after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he and his cabinet would take a pay cut and donate the funds to help with Covid-19 relief, it is still not clear whether the entire executive has followed through.
Three months after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he and his cabinet would take a pay cut and donate the funds to help with Covid-19 relief, it is still not clear whether the entire executive has followed through.
Image: 123rf.com/ LEON SWART

Three months after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he and his cabinet would take a pay cut and donate the funds to help with Covid-19 relief, it is still not clear whether the entire executive has followed through.

Less than half – 12 out of 28 – of ministers responded to Business Day when asked last week if they had made the contributions. Those who replied said yes or explained that they had either made a voluntary donation or had their salaries deducted.

While the pledge, which saw a string of corporate leaders saying they would do the same, was made by Ramaphosa, it was left to individual ministers to ensure that they met their commitments.

When the president announced on April 9 that the country’s initial lockdown to curb the Covid-19 spread, which was due to last three weeks, would be extended, leaving most of the economy closed and vulnerable workers without an income, he said an essential part of the country’s response would be the principle of solidarity.

He would, along with deputy president David Mabuza, ministers and deputy ministers take a one-third salary cut for three months. This would be donated to the Solidarity Fund, which was created to help support SA’s health and welfare response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The presidency said on Monday it had been decided that donations could be processed either through a direct deposit
to the fund by individual executive members or alternatively through a deduction from their salaries by their respective departments.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said the management of the payroll system within the government was decentralised, so individual departments were responsible for the implementation.

Diko confirmed that Ramaphosa had made his donation as promised but did not have information on whether ministers had done the same.

This comes as the president is under fire from the opposition, which accuses him of making big promises but failing to
follow through.

It emerged over the weekend that the government had opted to "delete" a plan to hold the executive to account by implementing performance agreements with the president, despite Ramaphosa promising to do so in his state of the nation address in February.

The Solidarity Fund said so far it had received R3.02bn in pledges, with more than R2.7bn already deposited.

It said more than 300,000 donors had contributed to the fund so far, with 2,067 of these being companies and trusts. Almost 300,000 individuals donated directly or through fundraising platforms.

The fund, run by former Absa executive Nomkhita Nqweni, however, could not give specific information about the executive and whether donations had been made.

Mabuza said he had made his contribution directly to the fund after confirming with the payroll administrators that the contribution had not been deducted from his salary.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, minister of human settlements, water & sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu and police minister Bheki Cele confirmed making the donation but did not provide further details.

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said she had taken the cut and had submitted a form to the finance unit authorising the deduction from her salary.

DONATIONS

Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe, public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu, and trade & industry minister Ebrahim Patel said deductions were made from their salaries.

Agriculture, land reform & rural development minister Thoko Didiza’s office confirmed that she had paid her contribution for two months and her last payment would be made at the end of July, while public works minister Patricia de Lille said she would start making deductions in July.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu’s office said he had already started making the monthly contributions and made his own arrangements to make the donations.

Minister of sports, arts & culture Nathi Mthethwa, and home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said they had made voluntary contributions.


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