Parties want a briefing on salary package of Secretary to Parliament

Xolile George was hired last year with a salary package below his earnings as CEO of the South African Local Government Association.

Xolile George was hired last year with a salary package below his earnings as CEO of the South African Local Government Association.

Published Nov 6, 2023


National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo have yet to brief the standing committee on financial management of Parliament, since a report surfaced, raising concerns regarding their decision to hike Secretary to Parliament Xolile George’s salary from R2.6 million to R4.4m.

The remuneration of George came into focus last Friday when Parliament briefed the standing committee on financial management of Parliament on the progress made in the implementation of the committee’s recommendations.

George was hired last year with a salary package below his earnings as CEO of the South African Local Government Association (Salga). This reviewed remuneration package “was set below (by about 26%) what he earned in his previous position as CEO of Salga”, according to what Parliament had initially stated. His salary at Salga was reportedly more than R5m.

Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo reviewed his salary based on recommendations by a consultancy firm.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth brought up the matter, saying they were not given wholesome answers around the initial salary of George and his increased salary.

ANC MP Bheki Radebe said George could not be expected to respond on his salary.

Mapisa-Nqakula was not at the meeting as she was receiving the Springboks during their visit to the institution while Masondo did speak on the matter.

“Before Parliament rises before the end of the year, the executive authority must come and give us a full report surrounding the appointment of the Secretary to Parliament,” Radebe said.

He also said Parliament, as the body playing oversight on government institutions, should be seen to be doing things properly.

“The co-chairpersons should communicate with the executive authority that before Parliament rises, they must come and give the report to joint standing committee on financial management of Parliament,” Radebe said.

The committee ought to receive a thorough report on George’s compensation package, co-chairperson Peace Mabe concurred, “perhaps in a formal meeting where we can have that as a priority item”.

Another co-chairperson Dikeledi Mahlangu said she too supported the suggestion on the salary package of George.

“As a relevant committee we need to get informed and clarity from the executive authority. I support her view,” Mahlangu said.

Meanwhile, MPs raised concerns about the questions sent to the minister that remained unanswered.

Last month, a parliamentary report showed that there were about 247 questions that were unanswered and some dated back as far as February.

There was also a reply to an oral question that was outstanding since June 7, contrary to the provision of the rule that the reply should be provided on the question day.

Ministers are given 10 working days to respond to written questions and can also be granted an extension if they so asked.

“I note that there are questions asked in February by me, my colleagues and other parties. It is good for us to send a letter to the Leader of Government Business (Deputy President Paul Mashatile). What more action can we take?” IFP chief whip Narend Singh asked.

“We put up these questions because we expect answers,” Singh said.

EFF MP Omphile Maotwe noted with concern that the issue of unanswered questions to ministers was raised not for the first time.

“Year in and year out we get given statistics and reports of questions that are not being answered.

“What is the process of accountability and consequence management for ministers who don’t respond to questions?” Maotwe asked.

Secretary to the National Assembly Masibulele Xaso said when ministers failed or delayed to provide written answers to questions, Mapisa-Nqakula followed three steps.

These included writing to the affected minister, and asking for the reasons for his or her non-compliance.

Mapisa-Nqakula also takes up the matter with Mashatile for intervention and could also reprimand the affected minister if there was still no improvement.

In March, Mapisa-Nqakula administered a reprimand to several ministers.

“The Speaker is still very concerned about the lack of replies or responsiveness. She has scheduled a meeting with the Leader of Government Business to discuss the matter,” Xaso said.

He stated that Mapisa-Nqakula would reprimand the affected ministers if there was no improvement after meeting Mashatile.

Cape Times