​Entrance to the Saint George hotel in Irene, Pretoria, where the ANC National Executive Committee is meeting to decide the fate of head of State Jacob Zuma. PHOTO: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA​
JOHANNESBURG - The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has released a report on South Africa's Secret Police, dealing just how much Treasury and essentially tax payers have coughed up for VIP services.

The subject of the IRR's latest report, titled Inside the Multi-Billion Rand, Clandestine VIP Protection Services, gives a gimps into the otherwise secretive VIP Protection Services - who they are, how they operate, how much they cost and what outcomes they are responsible for.

The study seeks to describe how the VIP Protection Services works, how it's structured, the outcomes it is responsible for and its performance; tracking the enormous rise in expenditure on VIP Protection over the past two decades; and demonstrate the degree to which this exceedingly well-funded police force operates in secret and, generally, without accountability.

The report states that the unit’s budget ballooned from R138m in 2000-01, further stating that the figure will reach R1.7bn in 2020-2021. The report also makes mention of the substantial increase during both of Zuma’s terms in office; during which costs rose from R353m in 2008-2009 to R1.5bn in 2018-2019.

The author of the report, IRR Head of Politics and Governance Gareth van Onselen, say that “on all three counts, there is cause for serious concern”.

“VIP Protection Services, a complex and secretive machine, now operates on a massive budget. For the 2018/2019 financial year, the Treasury will spend just under R3bn on VIP

Protection, and that estimate it deeply conservative. The report finds that, under President Zuma, “spending on VIP Protection exploded, and it continues
to increase, year on year. Cyril Ramaphosa is set to inherit a behemoth”.

The report, which includes a multitude of comparative and other tables, tracks all public expenditure on VIP Protection across all aspects of the operation (including VIP flights and 21 VIP Squadron) since 2000, when it first appeared as a budget line item.

Van Onselen points out that the various component parts of VIP Protection, some of which fall under SAPS, some under the Defence Force and some under the Intelligence Service, “are not properly reported on and, often, information about its operations is denied or hidden in public documents”.

“The constitution demands civilian oversight, but, routinely, Parliament is not properly briefed on VIP Protection and the public is none the wiser as to its performance," he said.

Speaking to Business report, National Treasury confirmed that the budget for VIP Protection Services will increase to R1.7 billion in 2020/21 as published in the 2018 Estimates of National Expenditure. Further stating that the budget increase in the VIP Protection Services sub-programme is "consistent with the growth in the size of the Cabinet over the last 10 years".

The VIP Protection Services sub-programme provides for the protection of the President, Deputy President, former Presidents, their spouses and other identified dignitaries (e.g. Ministers and foreign dignitaries).

* Source: The South African Institute of Race Relations