Cape Town — The cost to the taxpayer of support for President Jacob Zuma 's wives and children almost doubled in 2009-10, soaring to more than R15m from R8m a year before, according to figures released by the Presidency yesterday.
Speculation has been rife since Zuma came to power over the cost of his extended family, both during his term and once he has left office, and whether this would include children born from extramarital relations.
Yesterday, in response to a question from Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said that in 2008-09 the spousal office budget was R8,076m while the adjusted budget for 2009-10 was R15,517m. The spousal office in the Presidency provides support and benefits to spouses and children of the president.
When Trollip asked what the expenses and benefits enjoyed by Zuma's wives and children were, Chabane provided guidelines.
"Although the spouses have no constitutionally defined roles, obligations or responsibilities and as such are not remunerated by the state, they are, however, expected to provide support to the President in the execution of his duties, and specifically at state and official functions. In addition, the spouses may fulfil other official functions in support, and in the interest, of the Republic.
"The state provides all reasonable administrative, logistical and other support to the spouses to enable them to meet these responsibilities in a manner that permits them actively to pursue their own careers and interests if they so desire. The state also may provide reasonable logistical support to the spouses to assist with the day-to-day logistical arrangements of dependent school-going children in the household," Chabane said.
He said that staff were allocated to spouses and these included a private secretary and a researcher. Administrative requirements were also met.
Chabane said: "Expenses covered for spouses by the Presidency therefore include the following: personal support staff – secretary and researcher; domestic air travel and accommodation and international air travel and accommodation for official visits abroad approved by the President; cellular phones for spouses and their secretaries; equipment such as laptops and printers; and special daily allowances for incidental expenses during official journeys."
"The dependent children of the President may collectively utilise up to 60 single domestic economy class flights per annum to visit and reunite with their parents within the country at the cost of the Presidency. This figure is regardless of the total number of qualifying children. Travel costs beyond the allotted tickets are to be borne by the President."Dependent children of the president are defined as being under the age of 18, but under the age of 27 if studying full-time.
If a child minder has to accompany a child younger than eight, then the tickets come from the allocated 60.
Chabane said the policy applied to all the president's children regardless of whether he was married to the mother.