(President Jacob Zuma cuttting His Birthday cakes with His Wives, From LEFT: Bongi Ngema - Zuma, MaNtuli Zuma, Tobeka Madiba - Zuma and MaKhumalo Zuma as He Celebrates His Birthday). President Jacob Zuma celebrates His 70th birthday at ICC in Durban. South Africa. 13/04/2012

Cape Town - Controversy continues to rage over R206 million of taxpayers’ money being spent on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, but just how much does the president cost South Africa?

As president, Zuma earns R2 622 561 a year.

The state also pays 17 percent of his salary in pension fund contributions (about R445 000) and two-thirds of his medical aid contributions to the Parmed Medical Aid Scheme.

According to the scheme’s 2013 rates, the main member’s contribution is R3 845 a month and there is an additional contribution of R3 845 a month for every adult dependent and R994 for every minor dependent.

Assuming Zuma and his four wives are all on the scheme and no minor children are included, his total annual contributions would be R230 700, of which the state would pay R153 800.

Zuma has three official residences, excluding Nkandla, which is a private property.

These residences – Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria, King’s House in Durban and Genadendal in Cape Town – have all been upgraded in recent years. The cost of running these households totalled millions in 2009/10, the last time figures were made public.

Then, the cost of running the Pretoria home was R2.7 million a year and Genadendal cost R944 000.

Zuma spent little time at King’s House that year because it was being renovated.

The costs did not include the salaries of staff. More than 100 people are employed at the five properties dedicated for use by the president and the deputy president.

The Presidency has previously said Zuma’s four wives “pay their own living or household expenses, be it food, mortgages, lights, water and so forth. Nothing is paid for by the state in the four households of the spouses”.

However, there is a spousal support budget to enable the wives to “meet the expectations related to the nature of the Office of the President”.

In 2010/ 11 the spousal support budget was R15m. It is unknown what it is now.

“Support services to the President”, as detailed in the 2011/2012 Presidency budget, totalled R38m.

Zuma’s security is provided by the SAPS’s VIP Security team. According to the SAPS annual report, this unit “provides for the protection of the president, deputy president, former presidents, and their spouses, and other identified dignitaries while in transit.”

The unit had a R695m budget in 2011/12, but not all of this would have been spent on Zuma.

In response to a parliamentary question, then defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament last year that Zuma had taken 286 flights with the SA Air Force’s VIP Squadron 21 and on board SAAF charters since 2009. These cost more than R140m.

According to the Ministerial Handbook, the government document that governs spending, MPs are also entitled to:

* A car valued at 70 percent of their annual salary.

* Life assurance.

* A domestic worker.

* Flights for their spouses and children.

* Travel on the Blue Train.

What other world leaders earn a year:

* The world’s highest-paid leader, Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loona, recently took a 36 percent pay cut – as recommended by a committee he set up to look at remuneration. He now earns US$1.7 million (equivalent to R15.11m).

* Regarded as the world’s poorest leader is Jose Mujica of Uruguay. The BBC says that although his salary is around R1.2m, he gives 90 percent of it to charity.

* Japanese prime minister Yoshiko Noda took a pay cut in November – to draw nearly R3.2m – as part of a plan to cut public servants’ salaries to help the country rebuild after the massive earthquake and tsunami.

* US president Barack Obama earns $400 000 (about R3.5m) and has an additional allowance of $50 000 (R444 500). However, a book detailing White House spending, Presidential Perks Gone Royal by Robert Keith Gray, indicated that the family costs taxpayers around $1.4 billion (R124bn). Heaviest is the cost of staff and the cost of Obama’s security. This is however less than the $1.6bn (R14.22bn) cost of running the White House under George W Bush.

* Australian prime minister Julia Gillard earns R4.4 million, after her salary was hiked twice in the space of three months last year.

* Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper earns a total of $315 462 (R2.8m), with an additional $2 000 (R17 780) car allowance. However, he raised eyebrows when two armoured vehicles were flown to India for his use at a cost of US$1m (R8.89m).

Weekend Argus