Zuma’s Spousal Budget – Calm Down!

Huge uproar around South Africa today as it emerged last night that the country pays a “massive” R15.5m per year to support President Jacob Zuma’s three wives. According to Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, the money is spent on:

“…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.”

The budget has increased from just over R8.1m in the previous year, when Kgalema Motlanthe was in charge – although he kept his private life private and his wife did not attend any public engagements.
In 2007/8, when Thabo Mbeki (remember him?) was in charge, the budget stood at R8.4m.

Everyone is up in arms, because obviously, if Zuma had less wives, we wouldn’t be paying as much, innit? How dare he follow his cultural path of polygamy. Of course, there are a couple of things that have been forgotten in all the fuss. Aren’t there always?

  • SA is effectively paying R5m per wife per year. Two years ago, we were were paying R8.4m for a wife we rarely saw.
    Last year, we were paying R8.1m last year for a wife we weren’t even sure existed.
    So where were all the complaints then?
  • R15m per year amounts to about R0.30 ($0.04 or 2½ pence!) per head of population per year. That’s 2.5c per month.
    And since you were already paying half of that without complaint before, you’re actually moaning about an increase of just over 1 cent per month.
    Tell me, in all honesty, did you have big plans for that 1c? Did you?

I don’t disagree that there are other things on which the money could be “better spent”: hospitals, education, housing etc etc. But isn’t that always the case? Why the huge uproar over this? 
No, this is just another misinformed and opportunist attack on Zuma’s lifestyle by the media, helpfully egged on by the DA.
When are they going to realise that their efforts would be better served on matters which they have the power (and democratic right) to challenge? Zuma’s polygamy is not one of them.

And if you’re one of those people who are being swept up by the sensationalism of it all before you’ve actually looked at the facts, well, maybe you need to sit down and think why you’re so upset: is it really that 30 cents a year you’re having to fork out or is there actually something else driving that anger?

10 thoughts on “Zuma’s Spousal Budget – Calm Down!

  1. I know it’s the nature of the blogging game, but preachy chastisement of the – yes, uninformed – electorate isn’t always great reading to me. Ok, so you have a quota, and picking your battles might not be an option you can always exercise, but I find it generally more useful to enlighten people as to what they should be caring about, rather than what they should not. The reactionary chastisement of the reactionary indignation should be a subject all by itself.

    Appreciate the statistics, though.

  2. Rorschach > Appreciate the comment, but Jeez Louise, you’re asking me to commit online seppuku.
    I can’t tell people what to think. Sadly. The world would be so much better if I could.
    But no, there are enough people and enough problems in this country for everyone to have their fair share to moan about.
    And that’s fine. Just so long as they are aware of the FACTS behind their chosen annoyance.

  3. You’re making the assumption that the entire nation pays taxes. And that’s one hell of an assumption.

    And the fact that the money could be better spent elsewhere is a very big deal. Try spending a weekend in a public hospital and we’ll chat again.
    .-= Lester Hein´s last blog ..Drive Time – This week’s new tune =-.

  4. Facts, good. Opinion, good. My criticism, to put it in proper context, was one of literary sensibility. For what it’s worth, you hit a fucklot more than you miss.

  5. trust 6000 to be the voice of reason. you always make us see the other side, if we want to or not.

    but: RT @simonwillo: RT @CreativeCT: Wives of Prez get R15m, National Arts Council’s entire budget 14m.

    i do not entirely agree with your reasoning, though. it is not only about this particular 30c per year, it is about the culture of entitlement, and the general squandering of taxpayers hard-earned money, while so many other more urgent projects are neglected due to lack of money. it is about priorities.

    .-= jacki janse van rensburg´s last blog ..traffic problems… =-.

  6. Lester > Heh heh – I wondered how long it would be before the “not everyone pays taxes” thing would kick in.
    And you’re right, of course. Not everyone pays taxes. But then, not everyone pays taxes for anything else, either. For Health, for Education, for Roads and Defence and Arts. So it’s a bit of a stretch to say that that fact is specifically relevant to the Presidential Spousal budget.
    And yes – as I say – the money could be “better spent” elsewhere. You cite a Government hospital – I know, I work in one.
    But in my opinion, the Arts & Culture budget could be better spent elsewhere. Some might not agree. Same for Defence – I’d love some of those billions to go into hospitals and schools. That would make a far bigger difference than this insignificant R15m.
    All a matter of opinion and priority.

    Rorschach > Fair enough. And thanks for that.

    Emil > But it’s an important one, isn’t it?

    Jackie > It is indeed. And I refer you to my answer to Lester.
    Part of my taxes (around 3c per month by the look of it) go to Arts and Culture. Would that I could steer it away from there, but I can’t. This R15m is something that I know I have to fund – just like the R14m for Arts and Culture.
    We all have to pay for things we don’t want to – that’s the nature of taxation.

  7. I read about this today too and my first thought was that the same complaints get showered on those in power wherever you go in the world. It’s just that the details change.

    My second thought was that, in the great scheme of things, it really isn’t that important.

    I feel much the same way about the ~horrific~ cost we pay here for the BBC.

    Sorry, the sarcasm in that last comment didn’t really come across properly, did it?
    .-= Ro´s last blog ..Not Quite A Criminal Mastermind =-.

  8. Thanks for stirring it up a bit again. Great reading and great comments. Oddly, I have no opinion on the matter but can see why its such an emotive topic. Having no opinion on it actually bothers me though and opens up an entirely new debate between me and myself. Am I becoming one of the lame masses that just accepts? Mmmm… back to day job. I have taxes to pay.

  9. I dont care whether its for 1 or 15 wives, or whether its 1 or 15 cents…. I’m just curious as to how they came up with that figure?

    5 million rand per wife per year…. = a R13 000 PER DAY allowance…. Someone is taking the piss.

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