8 March 2018

Swaziland: Swazi Politicians' Pay to Be Reviewed

In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population have incomes of less than E8,760 per year. In contrast the Prime Minister who is not elected by the people has a salary more than nine times as much at E802,854 per year. In addition he gets a car, a house and five servants paid for by the taxpayer.

King Mswati III of Swaziland has ordered a review of the salaries of the Prime Minister and parliamentarians ahead of the 2018 national election.

A seven-member Royal Commission has been told to report to him by the end of March 2018. The review will be similar to one known as Financial Circular No 2 of 2013 undertaken before the previous election.

In Swaziland, political parties are banned from taking part in elections and people only get to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The King who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch chooses the other 10. No members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people. The King chooses 20 and the other 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.

Salaries for politicians in Swaziland are controversial as many ordinary Swazi people think they are too high. In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day which is about E24 or E8,760 per year.

The Financial Circular No 2 of 2013 details salaries and allowances. They have since been reviewed upwards annually in line with the those of the civil service.

As of 2013, the Prime Minister had an annual salary of E617,646. The Deputy Prime Minister received E555,881. Other salaries included: presiding officers E494,117; ministers E463,235; members of parliament E370,588.

Members of parliament also get an allowance for attending parliament of E350 per sitting. These allowances are not paid to ministers or presiding officers.

All parliamentarians are entitled to a constituency allowance equal to 12.5 percent of the basic pay of the member of parliament.

Following election or appointment a once-off settling in allowance of 15 percent of basic salary is paid to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers, ministers, regional administrators, deputy presiding officers and members of parliament.

A motor vehicle allowance reimburses parliamentarians for the cost of their private motor vehicle. It also covers running and maintenance costs. They can get car loans. The benchmark cost of vehicles include ministers E800,000; MPs E300,000 (plus E60,000 per year vehicle allowance and E45,000 per year maintenance and insurance costs).

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are allocated official vehicles by the state, a driver and police escorts (including for spouses and dependents) at the expense of Government. Spouses of the Prime Minster and Deputy Prime Minister are provided with a pool vehicle and driver.

Utility expenses (electricity, water and municipal rates) of parliamentarians who are eligible to occupy a government-owned residence (the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers and ministers) are covered by the Government. The rest of the politicians are entitled to a utility allowance of 3 percent of basic salary.

Cabinet ministers are eligible for a housing allowance equal to 25 percent of their basic salary. MPs are eligible for an allowance equal to 10 percent of their basic salary.

The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers, ministers and regional administrators are also entitled to household assistants paid by the Government. The Prime Minister, for example, is entitled to one housekeeper, one domestic helper, one gardener and two drivers.

When they travel abroad in their official capacity, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers and ministers are eligible to fly first class. Regional administrators, deputy presiding officers and MPs go business class.

All parliamentarians who fail to get re-elected or reappointed to the new parliament are entitled to a once-of payment equal to twelve months basic salary.

The above salaries and allowances were as of 2013, they have been reviewed annually since. In 2014 they received a 6.5 percent increase. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, estimated that cabinet ministers were being paid E526,233.96 per year which was more than some heads of state in the Southern African development Community (SADC). In 2014, the PM earned E657,792.96 per year making him the highest paid head of government in SADC.

By 2016 the Prime Minister's salary was E802,854, the Times reported. Other salaries included: Deputy Prime Minister E722,568 and presiding officers 642,300.


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