President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest address to the nation is a timely reminder that every SA politician — from the president through to the cabinet, premiers and MECs, MPs and MPLs, mayors, exco and manco members down to the lowliest local councillor — has continued to receive a full monthly salary throughout the pandemic, despite the ruinous effects of lockdown and the damage wrought on our economy.

As has every traditional leader, king, queen and member of every state-owned enterprise, quango and royal household. All of them. Every month. In full.

They have also received an annual increase of about 4.4% — effective October 2020 and backdated to April 1 2020. Those increases were optional, but most politicians happily pocketed them. Across the political divide they, unusually, all agreed on this single issue. Even the DA-run Cape Town city councillors cheerfully voted themselves the maximum increase allowed.

The only councillors I am aware of who rejected the increase and vowed not to accept it, are the DA councillors in eThekwini (Durban). There may, of course, be a few others. But even they have received full pay throughout.

The president did undertake to donate a third of his salary for three months to the Solidarity Fund, as did a handful of cabinet members and a couple of premiers. I have no way of telling whether these promises were kept and, given the shoddy state of our auditing “profession”, even an audited certificate of compliance from one of the big four audit firms would hardly provide reassurance.

Compare that to the devastation wrought on millions of ordinary workers, small business owners, self-employed professionals and skilled tradesmen. And the decimation of the hospitality industry and annihilation of the performing arts and others who have had to try to survive for month after month on nothing at all.

“The People Shall Govern” has been trashed to a meaningless slogan better suited to a placard next to the pig trough on Animal Farm.

Mark Lowe, Durban

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