Leon Schreiber, DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration
23 August 2019
Former Thief-in-Chief, Jacob Zuma, still lives in luxury at taxpayers’ expense. Over the past five years, the ANC has spent at least R82 million in public funds to support the lifestyles of former presidents – and the evidence suggests that a disproportionate chunk of this goes into Zuma’s pocket. And this is not the full extent of the expenditure, as it is only based on 60% of the available data, which means that the total amount potentially reaches as high as R114 million.
This staggering figure emerged from replies to parliamentary questions the Democratic Alliance (DA) posed immediately after seeing the sickening sight of how Zuma, a kingpin of the ANC’s state capture project, arrived to testify about his misdeeds at the Zondo Commission, accompanied by eight luxury vehicles, flashing blue lights, and dozens of security guards.
The responses to my questions revealed that, over the past five years, the ANC Government spent over R16 million in taxpayer money on travel and subsistence for former presidents and their spouses. An additional R65 million of South Africans’ money has been used over the same period to provide for the needs of the following former presidents and their spouses.
Former President FW De Klerk and spouse; Former President Thabo Mbeki and spouse; Former President Kgalema Motlanthe and spouse; Former President Jacob Zuma and spouse/s; Former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and spouse; and,Former Deputy President Baleka Mbete and spouse.
Interestingly, the amount of public money spent on former presidents increased significantly between the 2017/18 financial year and 2018/19 – from R15 million to R19.5 million. This coincides with Zuma’s resignation, which raises the possibility that the ANC Government is lavishing Zuma with benefits that may significantly exceed those of other former presidents.
Another worrying issue revealed by the responses to the DA’s question is that the government apparently has no mechanism in place to monitor how much taxpayer money is used to support the lifestyles of former presidents. Minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, complained that our question on how much money the government is spending on former leaders “could not be reasonably fully answered in the time allowed. We threw in a large number of finance officials…to collate and analyse the data.” In other words: on any given day, the government has no idea how much of your money they are spending.
It is unacceptable that the government lavishly spends this money without any type of monitoring system in place. Having established that government spending on former presidents has increased significantly of late, the DA will now pose a follow-up question to attain a breakdown of how much of this R82 million was spent on each of the six beneficiaries and their families. As was the case while he was president, it seems that Jacob Zuma continues to milk the people of South Africa for every cent he can get his hands on – with the ongoing enthusiastic support of the ANC. Public money must be used to create prosperity for the people of South Africa, not to reward the likes of Zuma.