How much money kings, queens and traditional leaders get paid in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has gazetted the official salaries government will pay to kings, queens and other traditional leaders in South Africa.

The gazette – which applies retroactively from 20 April 2020 – covers a wide range of roles, including the national and provincial houses of traditional leaders.

Traditional kings and senior leaders are symbolic figureheads in the country with little political power. However, these rulers play an important role in local disputes as well as in playing advisory roles to government – as well as in the lives of the traditional rural populations.

This was most recently seen in the unrest and violence across KZN and Gauteng, with traditional leaders calling for calm at a national level.

All these traditional leaders are paid by the South African government.

Note: NHTL = National House of Traditional Leaders | PHTL = Provincial House of Traditional Leaders

Province Salary
King/Queen R1 239 917
Chairperson: NHTL R933 270
Full-Time Chairperson: PHTL R768 678
Deputy Chairperson: NHTL R713 811
Full-Time Deputy Chairperson: PHTL R658 758
Full-Time Member: NHTL R415 113
Full-Time Member: PHTL R355 842
Senior Traditional Leader R270 942
Headmen/Headwomen R116 418

Wage freeze

The latest salaries represent an effective wage freeze, with president Cyril Ramaphosa also confirming that a number of senior officials including the deputy president and ministers would not be receiving an increase this year.

This aligns with recommendations made by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers earlier this year.

The recommendations are based on consultations with the minister of finance, the minister of Justice, the chief justice and Lower Courts Remuneration Committee, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“The commission has considered the fiscal condition of the country demonstrated in the previous financial years (2018/2019 and 2019/2020), the state’s wage bill and the impact of Public Office Bearers’ salary increment on the fiscus and general economic status of the country which has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, affordability of the fiscus, relevant legislation and all other factors referred to above.”

“As a result, the commission has recommended that there be no increment (0%) to the remuneration of all POBs’ categories.”

In 2020, Ramaphosa, the deputy president, and members of cabinet took a 33% pay cut for three months as part of a contribution to South Africa’s fight against the coronavirus, donating the money to the country’s Solidarity Fund.

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