Front row, from left: Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, King Mswati of Swaziland, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila pose for a family photo in Mbabane, Swaziland, on March 30, 2009 during a summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit.
Report by Francois Soudan: Salaries. How much do your leaders earn?
Beyond the fantasies, Jeune Afrique magazine is proposing an exclusive report on the income of ministers and several African heads of state. If the payslip constitutes an element of assessment, there are also allowances and benefits, which are often transparent, but at times opaque.
Hamdi Ould Mouknass, who was Mauritania`s foreign minister at the time of Moktar Ould Daddah, died an honest man 13 years ago. All Mauritanians, his fellow citizens, know the story of that 10 July 1978, when that exquisite and courageous man, learned of the overthrow of his president by a group of officers, while he was attending an Organization of African Unity summit.
He jumped into the first plane for Nouakchott and was welcomed at the foot of the gangway by soldiers. Before following them to the detention camp, he asked to talk to their leader and handed over to him the $10 million that an emir of the Gulf had given him, with the comments: this money is for Mauritania, make good use of it.
The case of Mouknass, who could very well have disappeared into exile with his money for the journey (he spent two years in prison), still remains an exception today, in this coveted, decried, and fantasized world of African ministers.
For the public, the fat lady has sung: a minister earns a lot of money. And the more he (or she) remains at post, the more they enrich themselves, because the more they have the opportunity to do so.
The reality, however, is more complex. This is why the comparative studies, which we have carried out, are of interest. It is certainly not exhaustive because this type of data at times involves state secrets, but it is very significant. If the disparities from one country to another are quite substantial, one however notes that the basic salary of an African minister is not fabulous if one compares it to the salaries of their colleagues of the rich world, even if, at times, it looks like a monthly golden parachute when one compares it to the average income per head.
It must also be pointed out that a minister in Africa has social obligations that are 10 times those of ministers of other continents. It is a large extended family, a large clientele that rushes to his door as soon as his appointment is announced. It is convenient to satisfy them financially at the risk of losing very quickly precisely that (besides his competence) for which he has been appointed: the support of his own community.
It must not be forgotten that in the final analysis it is a high-risk job: as the examples in Chad and Cameroon very well show at this moment. It so happens that one leaves his office only to find himself in prison, without transition or compensation. Hence, the temptation to work out quickly, as soon as one assumes duty, a kind of life insurance for the difficult times is inevitable.
If, as a Cameroonian maxim says, “goats graze where they are tied,” everyone knows that the quality of pasture is not the same for all the members of the government flock. For the ministers of finance, infrastructure, oil, power, transport, forestry and fisheries, the grass is fat.
“They see clearly,” as the saying goes in Central Africa, where people are persuaded (rightly, alas, more than wrongly) that many of those who hold these ministerial portfolios take their tithe on every contract within their area of competence. On the contrary, their colleagues in the ministries of culture, youth and sports, education, or health have less opportunity of taking a secret income, which is scarcer, or more dependent on international donors – and therefore more controlled.
The head of state obviously takes this into account by making sure that the distributive capacity of each of his ministers is a function of their electoral weight. The recipe is as old as the world itself.
There is a case apart: that of foreign ministers, who are always far from being as scrupulous as Hamdi Ould Mouknass.
Opening this chapter is like penetrating into the heart of the Bermuda triangle, which constitutes their per diem allowances, which are always received, very really justified on return from trips, and are never reimbursed when the minister`s expenses are borne either by the host country or by the body that invited him.
Let us be objective: foreign ministers are not the only ones who benefit from this type of allowances – each minister who travels has a right to it – but by the nature of their duties, they accumulate them.
Is it shocking? In the light of the henceforth global rules of good governance, it is obviously shocking. In an ideal world, the ethical charter that the new French president, Francois Hollande, has made each of his ministers sign, should also apply to African ministers: abstaining from intervention in a case involving a member of their family or a close relative or friend, refraining from the use of their official vehicle for non-official duties, not having resort to an escort, turning over to the state any gift whose value is higher than 150 euros, refraining from travel by plane unless it is absolutely necessary, and so on and so forth.
Looked at however from the African perspective, in a continent where the basic salary of a member of government is at times hardly higher than the active solidarity income in France, angelism has no place. So long as the gap between social and community demands, in sum, the cultural demands made on any holder of a parcel of power remains, and the reality of his earnings as they appear on his payslip continues to be what it is – sometimes abysmal – the temptation to bridge that gap with what is at hand will be irresistible. Whether one is a minister or a policeman, a senior civil servant or a counter clerk of the tax office, it is always easier to be honest when one has the means to be honest… Maghreb Homogeneity… and relative sobriety.
Logically, the continent`s leading producer of gas, Algeria, comes first in terms of remunerations in the Maghreb, with 5,167 euros per month. Otherwise, the emoluments of North African governments are quite homogeneous.
Mauritania is the exception that confirms the rule. Its ministers are better paid that their Moroccan and Tunisian counterparts, in spite of the much lower gross domestic product. What is the reason? The salary includes all official expenses as well as accommodation allowances.
It however remains true that, in the final analysis, salaries of ministers are quite close to those observed in the countries of the rest of the continent, and are especially quite lower than the salaries of chief executives of big companies. Here is an example among others: Mohamed Ferid Ben Tanfous, the director general of Tunisia`s ATB bank, was paid, in 2010, about 428, 802 euros, representing more than 35,000 euros a month, and that was more than 10 times the salary of his minister.
BELOW ARE SOME BENEFITS
Algeria: Monthly and quarterly bonuses double the allowances (transport, meals…). A separation bonus is also paid.
Morocco: The ministers enjoy housing, furnishing, entertainment allowances… The Moroccan minister adds 39,000 dirhams (about 3,500 euros) a month to his salary as well as a severance pay of 36,000 dirhams.
Mauritania: The salary includes all expenses. Two gasoline cars and 100,000 Ouguiyas (270 euros) are also allocated to the minister.
Tunisia: Benefits are sparingly granted. They include a 100 dinars (50 euros) telephone card and 20gas coupons, of 20 liters each, for the two official cars. The amount of 3,000 euros is the gap between the salary of an Algerian minister and that of a Tunisian minister.
THE GOOD TUNISIAN EXAMPLE
The revolutionary wind has had its effects on the lifestyle of the state. Several ministers of the provisional government of Beji Caid Essebsi have been benevolent (Slim Chaker, Slim Amamou, Abderazzak Zouari). Kamel Jendoubi, the chair of the Higher Authority for Elections does not receive his salary – after the deduction of expenses. As for the incumbent president, he has shown an example by being content with 3,000 dinars (1,500 euros) a month instead of 30,000 budgeted for.
Algeria ——–€5,241 = 500,000 DA
Mauritania —-€3,790 = 1.4 million Ouguiya
Morocco ——-€3,255 = 36,000 DH
Tunisia ——–€2,240 = 4,500 dinars
On average, the ministers of these four countries earn 43,487 euros a year, excluding the benefits, for a Gross Domestic Product per head of 2,809 euros. It is therefore in the Maghreb that one has the highest gap in the three regions selected by Jeune Afrique.
Look for the error: If Moroccan ministers are not the best paid in North Africa, they can count on the avalanche of allowances: I 800 euros for housing, 1,263 euros for entertainment, and 450 euros for furnishings. That is nearly 3,500 euros, which makes it possible to double the basic salary. And when he leaves office, a minister pockets a last allowance: 32,500 euros.
“West Africa: Diverse Fortunes.”
“I earn as much today as a university professor as what I used to earn when I was minister of justice,” recalls a former member of a West African government. With the exception of Cote d`Ivoire, where the public treasuries are better replenished than elsewhere, a West African minister earns hardly 1 million CFA francs a month, rarely more.
It is obviously much in a region where more than half of the population lives with less than a dollar a day, but it is quite little in the light of the salaries earned in some large enterprises. And it is absolutely nothing compared to the income of expatriates sent by international organizations or big friendly powers…
“It is a real problem, for a minister must be able “to hold his own” when he invites, receives, or travels,” explains one of them. It is a fact, but there are often disreputable bonuses. “The per diem for travel, remunerations received as chair of ad hoc commissions whose work is hardly perceptible and the almost systematic “com” (commission) on public contracts constitute a comfortable complement for salaries,” confesses our prime minister.
Cote d`Ivoire ——–€7,306 = 4,792,290 F CFA
Senegal —————€3,049 = 2 Million F CFA
Benin ——————€1,783 = 1.7 Million F CFA
Niger ——————€1,524 = 1 Million F CFA
Burkina Faso ———€991 = 650,000 F CFA
Guinea Conakry ——€565 = 5 Million Guinean F
With an average Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant of 275 euros a year…, a West African`s lifestyle is far from that of his ministers. With 27,003 euros a year, excluding benefits (73 euros a day), in the seven classified countries, ministers benefit from an exceptional system. 6772 euros is the gap between an Ivorian minister, the best paid, and his Malian counterpart, the least paid.
BELOW ARE SOME BENEFITS
Senegal: The ministers have a right to official housing and an official car. Telephone fees and travel expenses by plane are paid by the state.
Cote d`Ivoire: Settlement allowance (six times the monthly salary), entertainment allowance, a car with driver.
Mali: 450,000 CFA francs allowance for the payment of water, electricity, and telephone, if the minister does not have an official residence. He has an official car, 300 liters of gas per month, and 100,000 CFA francs for travel abroad.
Guinea: An official car, official housing or housing allowance, fuel allowance, and two bags of rice for the Aid-el-Kebir festival.
Burkina Faso: An official car with driver, compensatory allowance to make up for the loss of income with respect to original employment (350 000 CFA francs). Niger: Ministers have 300 000 monthly allowance, an official car with driver, a personal secretary, and a chief of staff.
Benin: A minister is paid 5 million CFA francs “equipment allowance.”He has a right to an official car with a driver, payment of three members of his personal staff, and enjoys unlimited fuel.
FIND THE ERROR: The necessary political and regional balances are not sufficient to explain the plethoric governments in Cote d`Ivoire. There is, without doubt, another reason: the dizzying amount allocated for “settlement allowance.” When a minister assumes duty, he receives 43,000 euros, in addition to salary and classic benefits… a record.
Central Africa: Beware of appearances Figures are at times deceptive. What do the Congolese minister signing for 7,600 euros a month and his Cameroonian counterpart declaring 200 euros have in common? As is quite often the case in these matters, the devil is hidden in the details? In this case, it is the allowances and other benefits secretly fixed that make the difference. And then there are the “extra benefits,” confides a former minister. The list is long: the contingency fund in which one can eventually dip, generous trips with all expenses paid, and for the less scrupulous, there are commissions taken on some public contracts.
Congo Brazzaville ——–€7,622 = 5 Million F CFA
Gabon ———————€4,573 = 3 Million F CFA
DR Congo —————–€4,000 = 4,528,730 Fr
Central African Rep ——€2,287 = 1.5 Million F CFA
Chad ———————–€877 = 575,000 FCFA
Cameroon —————–€200 = 131,000 FCFA
7,422 euros is the gap between the monthly salary of a Congolese minister and his Cameroonian counterpart.
The amount indicated does not include fixed allowances and sovereign fund expenses. Look for the error:
In Cameroon, an official vehicle worth 80 million CFA francs can be purchased by the minister at 5 million CFA francs after only three years use. The 10 percent commission received on public contracts is perfectly legal.
Below are some benefits
Cameroon: Besides the allowances received, which are as high as 79,000 CFA francs (1 200 euros) a month for (housing, transport…), sovereignty fund expenses add up to 30 million F CFA (45,700 euros). To that is added the possibility of purchasing an official vehicle at a very cheap price and a 10 percent commission on public contracts.
Gabon: A Mercedes Benz official car with a driver is the only known benefit, together with the payment of personal staff (aide de camp, a security officer, and a private secretary.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Some 16 000 euros are paid on average for housing and transport. Between 4 000 and 8 000 euros are paid in the case of the death of a family member, and the medical expenses of children and spouse are also taken care of.
Central African Republic: The benefits are two official cars, gas coupons, housing allowances, reimbursement of expenses (receptions, telephone bills, and so on and so forth)… The minister does not have many expenses to make. The only exception: If he travels in business class, he bears the expenses. Chad:
In addition to the official car, the allowances attached to the job have been fixed at 1 million CFA francs a month.
Congo Brazzaville: In addition to the official car and official residence or a housing allowance, utility bills (water, power, telephone…) are reimbursed to the tune of 3 million CFA francs a month. The minister travels in business class. The ministers of the six countries indicated above earn an average of 38,734 euros a year, for an average Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant of 8 827 euros. The gap in income between the ministers and the citizens is less pronounced that in the other five countries.
South Africa: in a separate class. With a monthly salary that is higher than 19,000 euros, a South African minister is by far the best paid minister in Africa. He also enjoys an allowance accounting for 60 percent of his salary for the purchase of an official car, and his accommodation costs are paid. When he travels, he lodges in five-star hotels. This is a far cry from the austere situation that prevails in Djibouti, where all monthly allowances are limited to 250,000 Djiboutian francs and where there is no official car.
South Africa ———€19,765 = 207,083 RANDS
Kenya —————€9,154 = 1 Million shillings
Ghana —————€3,953 = 9,425 cedis
Djibouti ————-€1,582 = 350,000 Djibouti francs
Rwanda ————-€1,235 = 945,930 Rwanda francs
The salaries of Rwandan ministers will go up from 1,235 to 1,660 euros in July. This increase is understandable in one of the most flourishing economies of the region, with a 7 percent growth rate for the past two years. The remuneration will certainly be 40 times higher than the average Gross Domestic Product a year for a Rwandan, but it is quite relative in comparison with Cote d`Ivoire, for example, where the relation between the salaries of ministers and the Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant is 96…
(Description of Source: Paris Jeune afrique.com in French — Website of the privately owned, independent weekly magazine; URL: http://www.jeuneafrique.com)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.