Taxpayers to foot bill of expanded Cabinet – Ntshavheni

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the high cost comes with an electoral outcome that does not produce an outright majority winner. GCIS

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the high cost comes with an electoral outcome that does not produce an outright majority winner. GCIS

Published Jul 4, 2024


Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has said taxpayers will have to foot the bill of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bloated Cabinet as this is the “cost that comes with the electoral outcome” that does not produce an outright majority winner.

This comes after Ramaphosa appointed 32 ministers and 43 deputy ministers to serve in the Government of National Unity (GNU), contrary to his past commitments to reduce the size of the Cabinet.

Earlier this week, ActionSA president Herman Mashaba said Ramaphosa’s Cabinet would collectively cost more than R1 billion annually in benefits and perks, with R183 million allocated to salaries of ministers and deputy ministers alone.

It also comes on the back of National Treasury publishing the revised cost-containment measures directed to accounting officers in all government departments, constitutional institutions, and public entities as per schedules 2 and 3 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Ntshavheni today reiterated that Ramaphosa could not cut down on the number of ministers in his Cabinet as he had to accommodate all the parties represented in the GNU.

She said a certain country, without mentioning its name had a Cabinet of a total of 200, because that’s what the electorate had opted for.

“I can’t comment on how much is the estimated expenditure because there’s a tendency to overinflate the amounts involved. In the 6th administration it cost the government a R1 billion per annum, if not just slightly more for ministers and deputy ministers and DGs and everybody to attend to portfolio committees and parliamentary work in Cape Town. So that number, if government work has to be done, government work has to be done,” Ntshavheni said.

“The electorate chose an outcome that landed us in a Government of National Unity and there’s the need for inclusivity. So the electorate will also have to accept the responsibility that they gave us. For us to make lemonade from lemons, there is a cost to it and that cost will have to be carried. It’s the new normal.

“As the president indicated he had wanted to reduce the number of portfolios, but when his political party did not get an outright majority and has to work with everybody else, he had to ensure everybody has to be included because it can be a government of national unity which is not inclusive of other parties to the statement of intent. So there is a cost to the electoral outcome…”

Ntshavheni said South Africans will have to decide again in 2026 with the local government elections and also in 2029, with the national and provincial elections whether they want an outcome that does not have a clear outright winner or they are happy with this outcome of collective leadership “with all the advantages and disadvantages”.

Mashaba said South Africans have been calling for a reduction in the size of the Cabinet for years given that the country has one of the largest Cabinets in the world while citizens struggle to keep up with the rising cost of living.

He said that among other perks afforded to Cabinet ministers, taxpayers can expect annually to cover R2.68m in salaries for each minister and R2.2m for each deputy minister. On top of this, taxpayers will cover over R500m for VIP protection and security and over R390m for support staffing.

“These staggering figures do not even account for the additional costs associated with luxury residences afforded to ministers and deputy ministers,” Mashaba said.