South Africa

Government’s millionaires

Ten years ago, there were 10,000 government employees in South Africa earning more than R1 million. There are now 55,000.

This was revealed by The Outlier, which analysed government employee salaries over the last ten years.

The Outlier’s analysis found that South Africa’s public servants are some of the best-paid in the world.

“With a wage bill of R724 billion, the country spends more on salaries in relation to its gross domestic product than Australia, China, Spain, and the UK,” it said.

An annual salary of R1 million, which equates to R83,300 per month, is more than three times the average South African wage of R26,000 per month.

The Outlier further said public servant salaries increased by significantly more than inflation. Without strong economic growth, it is unsustainable.

“Nearly half of the government’s 1.3 million employees earn between R350,000 and R600,000 annually. Ten years ago, 80% of government employees earned less than R350,000 annually.”

  • 55,000 government employees earn over R1 million per year.
  • Almost half earn between R350,000 and R600,000 annually.
  • The average salary in South Africa is R312,000 per year.

Of particular concern is that the government employee wage bill has skyrocketed from R408 billion in 2013/2014 to R724 billion in 2023/2024.

The significant increase happened despite the government trying to slow the growth of the Public Sector Wage Bill.

There also does not seem to be an end to the increase in salaries of government and state-owned enterprise employees.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently said he would honour the public sector wage deal to give employees a 7.5% increase, though it had only budgeted for a 4.5% raise.

The deal will come at an additional cost to the Treasury of R23.6 billion, which the country cannot afford.

The chart below, courtesy of The Outlier, shows the increase in government employees earning more than R1 million per year.


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