Johannesburg - Providing medical services for President Jacob Zuma, his dependants and predecessors is an expensive business, according to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question on Friday, she said the cost of running the Presidential Medical Unit (PMU) in 2013/14 was just over R11.5 million (to date), and had involved 70 medical personnel and 82 vehicles.

The unit is managed by the SA Military Health Service, a branch of the SA National Defence Force.

“The SA Military Health Service is responsible for the health and wellness of the serving president and deputy president, as well as former presidents and deputy presidents and their dependants, as well as visiting heads of state and government.… ”

Mapisa-Nqakula said the PMU was on 24-hour call.

“Health support provides for day-to-day health support, as well as close support to the president and deputy president within and outside the (country).”

The nature of the tasks performed by the unit meant its numbers could vary from time to time, depending on prevailing needs.

According to her reply, there were currently 76 staff members, of whom 70 were medical personnel with the PMU, and 82 vehicles allocated.

Costs for the year (2013/14) to date - totalling R11 558 743 - included R9 967 188 for administration expenses and R1 591 555 for “services”. - Sapa