Questions about parliamentary secretary’s R4 million salary

Henry

The DA asks that the revelations about Xolile George, secretary of parliament,’s salary be urgently investigated.

According to these revelations, George earns more than R4 million per year; this is almost twice the salary of R2.6 million that was agreed upon when he was appointed as secretary.

Siviwe Gwarube, chief whip of the DA, says Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, speaker of the National Assembly, and Amos Masondo, chairman of the National Council of Provinces, apparently misled parliament about George’s salary. She therefore asks that both be investigated for this.

“The DA is going to submit an urgent complaint to the committee on powers and privileges to investigate the executive authority (Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo) for breaking their oath of office and betraying the principles of transparency and accountability,” says Gwarube.

“Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo violated their code of conduct, code of ethics for members of the executive authority and their responsibility for financial management. They have also violated the trust placed in them to act in the best financial interest of an institution that is struggling to meet its constitutional obligations due to severe financial constraints.”

According to Gwarube, Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo committed the following offences:

  • Breach of the Act on Powers, Privileges and Immunities of parliament and provincial legislatures. By misleading parliament and the various committees meant to hold them accountable, Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo interfered in the oversight function of members of parliament by secretly negotiating a salary increase of R1.8 million with George after parliament passed the accepted a salary of R2.6 million upon his appointment.
  • If the post had been openly advertised without any suspicious transactions, the parliament could have attracted a larger pool of candidates. To increase the salary three months after the appointment indicates that it was an agreement that misled the parliament. In addition, one can assume that this was done to exclude other competent candidates from the recruitment process.
  • In terms of the Financial Management Act of the parliament and provincial legislatures, the executive is expected to act in accordance with the code of ethics (and code of conduct) when they account for the sound financial management of the parliament. It could be argued that this secret salary deal is in direct contrast to that requirement.
  • The code of ethics for members of the executive authority places additional responsibilities on the executive authority to act in a way that has the public’s interests at heart, an obligation that is not fulfilled by simply acting within the law. However, this was not done.

“The allegations that Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo are now facing indicate that they are not fit for the task at hand. They did not do the recruitment of the secretary of parliament in an open and transparent manner. Instead, these allegations show that they actively tried to mislead parliament. This is why they both urgently need to be investigated and this matter should be investigated publicly.

“Parliament is the institution that is meant to hold the government to account. The actions of the speaker do not inspire public confidence and now cast doubt on the institution’s own financial management.”