Throughout the world, it’s kind of a given for the Office of the President to come with some perks. And it does have a lot of it. From bumper paychecks to fleets of cars, elevated status and a whole lot of power, it’s quite the top job. And maybe that’s why it’s hard to find someone for the job who isn’t mostly motivated by personal gains.
What is not common knowledge, however, is that even as presidents get all the good stuff when they are in office, they still get to enjoy just as many perks when they are out of it. And in South Africa, the figures from funding the lifestyles of former presidents is beginning to raise eyebrows.
Reports have it that South African parliament have placed this matter under scrutiny after it came to light that in the last five years, the government has spent no less than ZAR 82 Mn in public funds supporting the lifestyles of the country’s former presidents; a rather steep figure given the country’s current struggles, especially with its government-owned institutions which are neck-deep in debt.
According to Dr Leon Schreiber, MP and DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Adminsitration, who is attempting to drive home the point, the estimated ZAR 82 Mn does not even reveal the full extent of the expenditure as that figure is only based on 60 percent of the available data; an indication that the total amount could be as high as ZAR 114 Mn.
Former Presidents FW de Klerk, Kgalema Motlanthe, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, as well as their spouses, and former deputy presidents along with their spouses, are known to be the persons benefitting from the allocations.
Schreiber said the information emerged from replies to parliamentary questions the Democratic Alliance posed after seeing Zuma arrive at the Zondo Commission, “accompanied by eight luxury vehicles, flashing blue lights, and dozens of security guards”.
According to an earlier report by The Sunday Times, part of Zuma’s post-presidential benefits include a guaranteed salary for life estimated to cost taxpayers around ZAR 3 Mn annually, and a security detail comprising individuals who have to take home a sizeable paycheck themselves.
It was also revealed by Schreiber that up to ZAR 16 Mn has been spent on travel and subsistence of former presidents and their spouses over the last five years and an during the same period, the country had to fork out an additional ZAR 65 Mn for the needs of the former presidents and their spouses.
The DA also stated the intention of his office take apart the financial details so as to ascertain how much of the ZAR 82 Mn was spent on each of the six beneficiaries and their families.