Parliament’s Deputy Speaker must head probe into secret salary hike by Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
10 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find the attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

The DA has written to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, to refer the investigation into the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to the Powers and Privileges Committee.

Ordinarily, a Member of Parliament would refer a complaint about another MP to the Speaker for investigation who would then refer matters for investigation and adjudication to the said Committee. However, because she is at the center of these grave allegations of misconduct, and therefore conflicted, the Deputy Speaker now needs to take the lead in handling of the case.

The Sunday Times revealed this past weekend that Parliament’s Political Heads – Mapisa-Nqakula and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo – approved a secret 70% salary hike for the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Xolile George, raising his salary from the advertised and approved maximum of R2.6 million to R4.4 million.

Parliament approved the appointment of George in June 2022 based on the misleading information provided by the Speaker in Parliament. It is alleged that less than three months after his appointment, the Political Heads secretly agreed to raise Mr George’s salary to R4.4 million, information which was not disclosed to Parliament. It remains officially undisclosed.

The DA contends that there are a number of breaches of ethics, accountability, transparency requirement and misconduct by the Speaker; in particular.

1. She misled Parliament about the remuneration of the Secretary to Parliament. She committed to MPs and to the country that he would be paid no more than R2.6 million, when in fact she and Masondo had colluded to increase his salary once he was appointed.

2. By misleading the public about the remuneration package, the Political Heads likely prejudiced other suitable candidates who may have applied for the role. This is not only unethical, it likely places the institution in legal jeopardy.

3. It can only be deduced that this was done specifically to engineer a particular desired and secret outcome – George’s appointment, to the exclusion of other candidates.

4. Mapisa-Nqakula and Masondo have betrayed public trust in Parliament. Backroom deals, to the tune of R4.4 million no less, have no place in an institution whose job is to hold the government to account on behalf of South Africans and must itself exemplify open, transparent and ethical public financial management.

We await the response from the Deputy Speaker on the speedy referral of this matter to the Powers and Privileges Committee. The credibility of the institution hangs in the balance as long as there are no satisfactory answers to these questions.

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