South Africa's cabinet remains much bigger than in other countries - here's how we compare

Business Insider SA
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa announces his new cabinet. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla
  • South Africa's leaner cabinet still looks bloated compared to other countries.
  • The US, whose population is almost six times larger than South Africa, only has 15 cabinet members.
  • But South Africa's female representation in the executive is far stronger than in many other countries.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

President Cyril Ramaphosa may have reduced the size of his cabinet by eight ministers, but South Africa’s executive remains much larger than in many other countries. 

An analysis by Citibank, shows how the South African cabinet stacks up against those in other countries:

cabinet size
Source: Citibank

The closest in size is India, which has a population of almost 1.4 billion  - compared to South Africa’s 57 million.

The US, whose population is almost six times larger than South Africa, only has 15 cabinet members.

Gina Schoeman, the South Africa economist for the Citibank Global Economics team, says that the smaller cabinet is a start – although she would have liked to see fewer deputy ministers.

While Ramaphosa reduced the number of ministers to 28, from 36 previously, he only cut a single deputy minister position. 

But Schoeman was heartened by Ramaphosa’s assurance that he is committed to the continued “reconfiguration” of government, which should mean smaller cabinets from now on.

The smaller executive should mean a saving of R21 million a year, in salaries alone. According to Africa Check, ministers earn an annual salary R2,401,633, while deputy ministers get R1,977,795.

In addition, members of cabinet get 25% of their salary towards a private vehicle. “At an allowance of just more than R600,408, a minister will be able to buy a 2018 Mercedes C Class sedan or an Audi A4 2.0TDI,” Africa Check says.

All ministers and their deputies are allowed to purchase one car for official use in Pretoria as well as one in Cape Town. “The value of each vehicle cannot be more than 70% of their salary. At the current salary determinations, a minister could therefore buy two cars to the value of R1.68 million each.”

They live free of charge in one state-owned residence in either Pretoria or Cape Town. Africa Check found that if they want to move into a second state-owned house they must pay a “market related” rent.

Taxpayers also pay for 30 single business class flights per year within South Africa (ministers’ spouses also get 30 tickets, and dependent children get six single economy class flights per year).

Better half

For the first time in South Africa, 50% of the executive are now women – the same as in Canada and France. But South Africa lags behind Spain and Sweden, where women now take up more than half of the positions in cabinet. 

According to an analysis by The Economist, the average female representation in European cabinets is 28%.

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