Almost R1m in 9 months - what taxpayers forked out for Zuma's travel, cellphone costs

Jacob Zuma (Gallo)
Jacob Zuma (Gallo)

In the nine months since former president Jacob Zuma vacated the Union Buildings, taxpayers have coughed up close to R1m for travel, transport and cellphone usage for him, his spouses and two support staff members.

This was revealed in President Cyril Ramaphosa's answer to a parliamentary question by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, who asked what the Presidency spent on trips Zuma undertook, as well as all other expenses the former president incurred since February 14, 2018. 

Steenhuisen also wanted to know the purpose of each trip undertaken.

"Former President Zuma no longer holds public office. The purpose of his trips is therefore not a matter for the Presidency," Ramaphosa answered.

'Presidential benefits'

Between February 14 and November 30, 2018, the Presidency has spent R150 668.38 on flights for Zuma.

"All other expenses related to the former president, spouses and his two support staff members for the period 14 February 2018 to 30 November 2018 amount to R837 444.41. These expenses include cellphone, flights, accommodation and car rental expenses," reads the reply.

"As with all former presidents, former president Zuma is entitled to certain benefits as outlined in the policy on the benefits of executive office," Ramaphosa explained. 

"Among other things, the policy entitles a former president and an accompanying spouse to an unlimited number of journeys using scheduled commercial domestic flights. The cost of these flights is borne by the Presidency. Other relevant benefits include the provision of administrative support, cellphone expenses and office equipment."

These costs don't include Zuma's legal expenses.

The DA is embroiled in a campaign to stop the Presidency footing Zuma's legal bills, which is believed to amount to millions.

This isn't the only money or financial benefit Zuma gets from the state. He also earns a pension. In September last year, the National Assembly approved a pension increase for him.

The motion the National Assembly adopted stated that the increase "should be linked to the increase in the sitting president's salary". 

When Zuma resigned as president, he was earning more than R2.9m a year. In the budget which then finance minister Malusi Gigaba tabled in February, 2018, R3.6m was set aside for Ramaphosa's salary in 2018.

Zuma resigned from the Presidency on February 14 last year under pressure from the ANC, paving the way for Ramaphosa to be elected to the position by the National Assembly.

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