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XOLILE GEORGE

Parliament secretary took pay cut from local government association income — yet still gets over R3-million 

Parliament secretary took pay cut from local government association income — yet still gets over R3-million 
Secretary to Parliament Xolile George. (Photo: Xabiso Mkhabela)

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George earned R3.177-million inclusive of benefits, over the 2022/23 financial year since his appointment in June 2022 as the national legislature's top administrator, according to the national legislature’s annual report that records another clean audit.

When Xolile George was the front runner for the post of Secretary to Parliament, the question about his salary was a talking point both in parliamentary corridors and in meetings. As CEO of the SA Local Government Association (Salga), he had earned a R5.8-million inclusive annual package, according to the association’s 2020/21 annual report. The national legislature’s offer was a R2,604,661 package, according to the readvertised call for applications.

The salary issue also emerged in the National Assembly which ultimately confirmed George as Secretary to Parliament on a five-year contract from 15 June, 2022 despite opposition from the DA, EFF, Freedom Front Plus and others 

Officially, mum was the word on salary details and such.

Now Parliament’s 2022/23 annual report shows George’s basic salary since his appointment as R3.093-million, which with R84,000 post employment benefits, rose to R3.177-million.

As Secretary to Parliament, George is the institution’s accounting officer. In government, that’s a director-general who can earn salaries from a R1.5-million package at Arts and Culture to the Public Service and Administration’s late 2019 advertised salary of R1.978-million annual package.

Parliament’s presiding officers, like lawmakers, receive salaries determined by the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Elected Public Office Bearers. These run a year behind; in July 2023 President Cyril Ramaphosa approved the salaries from 1 April 2022, including a 3% increase. 

 But for the the 2022/23 financial year National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Amos Masondo earned R2,91-million annual salary package and their deputies, respectively Lechesa Tsenoli and Sylvia Lucas, R2.037-million.

George’s deputy Baby Tyawa — the long-term acting secretary since mid-2017, who was suspended in October 2022 — received a R2.387-million total income for the 2022/23 financial year. 

Baby Tyawa

From left to right: Advocat Modibedi Phindela, Newly elected chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, with then-Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, deputy chairperson Sylvia Lucas and acting secretary to Parliamanent Baby Tyawa on Thursday 23 May 2019. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

In the prior financial year as acting Secretary to Parliament Tyawa earned a R2.529-million package, according to the annual report financial statement notes.

When secretary Gengezi Mgidlana went on special leave in June 2017 pending investigations into claims including financial mismanagement and abuse of power, Tyawa was appointed acting Secretary to Parliament. Her acting stint continued after both Houses of Parliament in October 2019 voted for Mgidlana’s instant dismissal after disciplinary guilty verdicts until George’s appointment.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Chapter closed on Mgidlana’s tenure as top parliamentary official, but other business remains outstanding  

The secretaries to the two Houses of Parliament respectively had incomes for the whole 2022/23 financial year of R2.453-million for the National Assembly’s Masibulele Xaso, and R2.58-million, including a R10,000 long service payment, for the National Council of Provinces’ advocate Modibedi Phindile. 

A total of R12.727-million went to Parliament’s top executives, including an acting chief financial officer, in the 2022/23 financial year. 

The institution’s top executives’ salaries earn around the R2-million a year mark. Unlike the prior financial year, no performance bonuses were paid.

Parliament’s head of legal services advocated Zuraya Adhikarie earned a total of R2.393-million, communications head Moloto Mothapo R2.334-million, as did Parliament Budget Office head Dumisani Jantjies, as international relations and protocol head Dumisani Sithole received a R2.533-million total package. 

A permanent CFO, Jason O’Hara was appointed in May 2023, and a permanently appointed Parliament remains without permanently appointed serjeant-at-arms. After years of acting incumbent, on Thursday Parliament announced ex-SAPS lieutenant general Sam Shitlabane as its new in-house protection services boss.

Parliament tabled its annual reports on 4 September, according to the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC). The national legislature traditionally is among the first to do so, alongside the South African Reserve Bank. According to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) departments, entities and most State-owned Entities (SOEs) must submit annual reports by the end of September.

Parliament obtained a clean audit for the 2022/23 financial year, the ninth consecutive such finding, according to the annual report.

“The continued trend of clean audits underscores the institution’s responsible management of public funds and resources, while also reflecting its dedication to upholding the principles of good governance,” said Parliament’s 2022/23 annual report. 

“This result symbolises more than just financial compliance, and embodies the institution’s dedication to its constitutional role.” DM

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