Budget for Ndabeni-Abrahams’ private office revealed

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The overall total amount budgeted for the private office of communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is R16.2 million for the 2019-2020 financial year.

This is according to a written reply to Parliamentary questions posed by member of the National Assembly and Democratic Alliance (DA), Annerie Maria Magdalena Weber.

The more than R16 million figure; however, does not include the payment packages of senior-level staff, such as the director-general or deputy director-generals.

The minister’s reply shows her private office has a staff complement of 14 members, including a special advisor, chief of staff, receptionist and personal assistant, to name a few.

In reply to Weber’s question, Ndabeni-Abrahams indicates she has been advised by her department that the annual salaries of the members are as follows:

  • Special advisor to the minister: R1.5 million
  • Chief of staff: R1.3 million
  • Parliamentary and Cabinet support: R1.1 million
  • Media liaison: R1.1 million
  • Cabinet and Parliamentary officer: R733 257
  • Personal assistant to the minister: R755 418
  • Community outreach officer: R733 257
  • Portfolio coordinator: R733 257
  • Assistant appointment secretary: R376 596
  • Secretary/receptionist: R257 508
  • Registry clerk: R257 508
  • Domestic worker at Pretoria residence: R224 626
  • Domestic worker at Cape Town residence: R224 626
  • Food aid:  R109 534

The appointment of a department’s chief of staff has, in the past, been a contentious issue; particularly in the case of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), which until last year was still a single ministry.

In 2014, the DTPS confirmed one of former president Jacob Zuma's daughters – Thuthukile Zuma – would serve in the position of chief of staff at the newly formed ministry. The president's daughter previously served under Siyabonga Cwele, as a liaison officer at the State Security Agency, and followed the then spy boss to the DTPS, when he was appointed minister of the department in May 2014.

At the time, Marian Shinn, former DA shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, explained that hiring of a chief of staff is a personal appointment by the minister, and thus not such a clear-cut issue.

Last year, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced the consolidation of the DTPS and the Department of Communications (DOC) back into one unified ministry, appointing Ndabeni-Abrahams to head the merged departments.

In June, it was announced the DTPS and DOC will be known as the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). Under its new name, the DCDT is mandated to lead the country’s ICT agenda.

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