Independent Online

Monday, August 15, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Zuma's kids fly high at taxpayers' expense

Published Feb 8, 2010


Did you know that President Jacob Zuma's 20 children were entitled to six domestic flights a year at the taxpayers' expense?

This is according to the ministerial handbook.

Story continues below Advertisement

The presidency confirmed yesterday that even though there was an attempt to develop guidelines specifically for the presidency, they "currently rely on the ministerial handbook".

"Dependant children are each entitled to six single domestic economy class tickets per annum to reunite with their parents during the member's regular travel between Cape Town and Pretoria," the handbook said.

The dependant children "should make use of bus/shuttle services between airports and the place of residence if they are not accompanied by one or both of their parents".

Story continues below Advertisement

"A member's aide or SA Police Service driver may transport the children to and from the airport. However, only under special circumstances, government transport may be utilised to transport children from the airport to their home."

Based on a random Independent Newspapers calculation, based on the price of just the cheapest flights from and to Cape Town, Zuma's children's flight bill could come to almost R300 000 a year.

If all of them are on state medical aid, something his senior aide Zizi Kodwa is refusing to disclose, the taxpayers will have to foot that bill, too.

Story continues below Advertisement

When the president retires the state pays the "full amount" for medical expenses for him, his wives and dependants.

Even though the children of South African presidents are not necessarily provided with bodyguards, the minister of police could - after a security assessment - instruct members of the presidential protection unit to provide security for all of them.

According to the handbook, the spouses of ministers and the president are "jointly entitled to 30 single domestic business class flight tickets per annum at the expense of the relevant department".

Story continues below Advertisement

The DA on Sunday said it was also trying to determine how much was budgeted for the "spousal office" which takes care of the benefits and privileges of first ladies.

The presidency could not divulge the budget for the spousal office, which also looks after the deputy president's spouse, but a government official said it would "definitely" cost more to run the spousal unit, as Zuma had a bigger family than his predecessors.

DA leader Helen Zille said: "We need to establish how much money is spent and what it costs South Africa, because it is not clear in the (presidency's) budget."

In his medium-term Budget speech last year Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the budget for the presidency, which supported the spousal office, was expected to increase from R325 million in 2009 to R333m this year.

A former presidential aide, who preferred to remain anonymous, said while the first ladies did not receive any allowances from the state, the spousal office took care of all their needs.

All of the three first ladies, Sizakele Khumalo, Nompumelelo Ntuli, and Thobeka Madiba, who Zuma married last month in Nkandla, have equal status, according to the Customary Marriages Act. Zuma is also engaged to Bongi Ngema.

It is not clear whether his girlfriend, Sonono Khoza, could be afforded the same status as Ngema.

The presidency has also kept mum on how many of the women in the president's life will attend the State of the Nation address next week.

According to the handbook for members of the executive, which recognises polygamous marriages, any of Zuma's wives and children can accompany him either on official business or holiday trips.

It is still a conundrum as to who is entitled to the president's pension.

According to recommendations of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, pension benefits payable to widows or widowers and dependants in the event of the president's death would be 50 percent of the pension benefit on his death.

Spokeswoman for the presidency, Matshepo Seedat, said they could not respond to questions about the spousal office as they needed more time to clarify details.

Related Topics: