20082012 711 President Jacob Zuma during an interview with The Star at Mahlambandlopfu in Pretoria. 120212. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

President Jacob Zuma could cost SA taxpayers more than R500 million over five years, according to analysis based on the ministerial handbook, says the DA.

“At the very least, President Zuma will cost the South African taxpayer R517.7m over five years – an average of R103.5m per year,” said Gareth van Onselen in a blog published on www.inside-politics.org.

Van Onselen, the DA’s director of political analysis and development, writes the blog in his personal capacity.

He used the ministerial handbook as a guide to calculate the figure.

“It was a very difficult exercise, but using the ministerial handbook as a guide, and by being very conservative, I have generated a total figure.”

The amount included Zuma’s annual salary of R12.3m over five years, medical aid of R6.5m and pension payout of R2.8m.

The cost for Zuma’s spouses was estimated to be R77.59m.

“According to the Presidency, the budget for the Presidential Spousal Support Unit was R15 517 500 for the 2009/10 financial year.

“The amount allocated to the Spousal Support Unit had increased from R4.5m in 2004/05 to R8m in 2007/8, to R15.5m in 2009/10, under Zuma.

“Significantly, the only way you can get information on the Spousal Unit is through parliamentary questions.

“There is no longer a stand-alone line item for it in the Presidency’s annual report [there used to be] and no dedicated programme of action for it in the Presidency’s strategic plan.

“It is money spent with no identifiable outcome attached to it. And for the last two years, its full costs are unknown,” Van Onselen said.

Zuma’s private vehicles were estimated to cost R3.7m over five years, while flights for the VIP squadron were calculated at R234.2m over the same time period.

The president’s overseas allowance was estimated to be R127 000 for five years. Van Onselen was not able to work out the allowance for his wives.

Zuma’s official residence could cost about R26m for five years, and taxpayers could fork out about R6.4m for his private residences.

VIP protection was calculated to be R60m for five years.

Van Onselen said he had calculated the figures based on Zuma’s taking office in May 2009 and his term ending in April 2014.

He said the amounts were exorbitant and the outcomes of the use of the money were unsatisfactory, referring to Zuma’s job performance.

“As I argued at the outset, South Africa needs a president, Jacob Zuma or no Jacob Zuma, and so many of these costs would have been incurred by the public purse regardless.

“How one interprets them is a matter of opinion. The South African public simply doesn’t know, and the ANC acts to conceal how much Jacob Zuma costs,” he said. “Presidents cost money and we need fair value for the money.”

The Daily News could verify only some amounts for the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years from reports by the National Treasury, the Presidency and the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

The DA’s spokesman on the Presidency, Joe Mcgluwa, said: “This excessive spending on the president cannot be right when so many of our people live in abject poverty.

“It is time for us to establish a parliamentary committee on the Presidency that will enable citizens to hold the president accountable for this expenditure.

“We will be writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to request a parliamentary debate on the matter.”

The Presidency failed to respond to questions sent by our reporter.