Cost of president's spousal office doubles - DA

Athol Trollip says budget has been increased to R15,6m under Jacob Zuma

In response to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question, the Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane has admitted that the cost of the spousal support office will increase by more than R7.5-million under President Jacob Zuma.

The minister's parliamentary reply follows below.

Since 2005, there has been a near fourfold increase in the cost associated with the president's spousal support office. The figure stood at R4.5-million in 2005/06, at R8-million in 2008/09, and now stands at R15.6-million.

We made a public undertaking, as part of our parliamentary oversight duty, to establish the exact costs associated with the president's spousal office. We have called in the past repeatedly for a special presidential handbook to introduce a strict regulatory framework for spending on the spousal office. We believe this reply demonstrates the need for this.

The reply sets out an array of other benefits afforded to spouses, including cell phones, laptops and printers, all paid for by the public purse. The purpose of affording a budget to the first lady's office has traditionally been that the first lady is, on the one hand, a public figure, and, on the other, warrants the protection afforded by the state. Whether or not this budget achieves these two purposes is difficult to glean from the information we have been provided; for this reason, we will now submit further questions about the exact breakdown of expenditure.







The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the Minister in the Presidency: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.

(i) With regard to the spousal office and the state-sponsored benefits provided to the spouses and children of the President, (a) what has been the budget for the spousal unit for each of the past five financial years up to and including the 2008-2009 financial year:

The spousal support office budget:  

2005/06: R4 528 455
2006/07: R7 673 640
2007/08: R8 400 656
2008/09: R8 076 709

and (b) what is the budget for this unit for the 2009-10 financial year;

The budget of this unit for the year is R15 517 500 allocated after adjustment in October 2009.

(1) Whether he can provide details of what expenses or benefits are covered by the Presidency for the President's (a) spouses and (b) children;  if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant guidelines;

(a) Guidelines on spouses.

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.

Staff are employed or deployed by the Presidency to  provide this support. This includes a Private Secretary for personal support and a researcher to assist in coordinating the necessary projects or activities of the Spouses which are in support of Government's Programme of Action. The Presidency also provides office administration requirements to the Spouses to enable them to fulfil activities related to their state or official functions. The spouses of the President are currently engaged in community work related to health (Mrs Thobeka Zuma), agriculture and food security (Mrs Sizakele Zuma) as well as care and support to orphans and vulnerable children (Mrs Nompumelelo Zuma).

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.

* Special daily allowance for incidental expenses during official journeys.

(b) Guidelines on children

A dependent child is defined as a financially dependent child under the age of 18, and a financially dependent and unmarried child over the age of 18 but under 27 and studying full-time at a recognised secondary or tertiary institution. the dependent children of the President  may collectively utilise up to sixty (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 under the age of 8 are entitled to be escorted by their child minder. The child minder's tickets are subtracted from the 60 allocated to the children. A dependent over the age of 18 may accompany the President on an official visit abroad only when the dependent child acts as the official partner, in the absence of the spouse.

Except for the above provisions, in all other cases where a dependent child travels with or accompany the President or spouse on official and other visits, the costs are borne by the President and not the Office. The Presidency will provide transport for school going children of the President in the instance where public transport or that allocated to the President is not available.

(2) Since the President assumed office on 9 May 2009 up to and including the latest specified date for which information is available, (a) what total amount has been spent on the President's (i) spouses and (ii) children and (b) what is breakdown of how this total amount was spent on his

Accurate figures will only be available after the conclusion of the financial year.

(3) Whether the Presidency covers any costs of the President's extra-marital children; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what costs are covered?

As explained above, the policy applies to children of the President regardless of the marital status of the child's parents.

Statement issued by Athol Trollip, MP, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader, March 17 2010

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