Luxury Cars, Private jets, VIP protection, spousal support, almost every week a new figure emerges suggesting that those privileges afforded President Zuma (and other members of the executive) are costing the taxpayer much money. It was a very difficult exercise but, using the Ministerial Handbook as a guide and by being very conservative, I have generated a total figure. To see it all set out, how much President Zuma costs per year and per term, and whether or not you think it’s excessive, read on.


The point of the exercise to try and derive a credible and defensible total figure for all primary direct expenses afforded to President Jacob Zuma by the Ministerial Handbook and for which the public – the taxpayer – is ultimately responsible.

It is not my purpose to analyse the cost or to give an opinion as to whether or not the amount can be described as exorbitant. I am merely setting out the facts.

A defining feature of this exercise, then, was how much effort the Presidency puts into hiding, concealing, manipulating and covering up its costs.

Here, then, is how much Jacob Zuma costs you in his first five years in Office.

The Zuma Balance Sheet

1. Annual Salary: [R2 275 802.00 to R2 753 689.00]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R12 315 706.00.
2. Medical Aid: [At least R1 300 000 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R6 500 000.00.
3. Pension Payout on Retirement: [Approximately R2 753 689.00]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R2 753 689.00
4. Spousal Support: [At least R15 517 500.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R77 585 000.00.
5. Private Vehicle: [70% of salary – R1 835 792.00, for two vehicles]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R3 671 584.00.
6. Flights – VIP Squadron: [An approximate average of: R46 838 476.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R234 192 383.00.
7. Flights – Additional: [R6 331 174.67 plus additional cost of two planes]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R10 000 000.00.
8. Flights – Helicopters: [At least R14 400 000.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R72 000 000.00.
9. Overseas Allowances – President: [An average of R25 400.00 per year]
• Approximate Five year Total: R127 000.00.
10. Accommodation – Hotels: [An average of R420 000.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R2 100 000.00.
11. Accommodation – Official Residences: [An average of R5 300 000.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R26 500 000.00.
12. Accommodation – Private Residences: [R6 400 000.00]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R6 400 000.00.
13.VIP Protection [An average of at least R12 000 000.00 per year]
• Approximate Five Year Total: R60 000 000.00.

At the very least, President Zuma will cost the South African taxpayer R514.1m over five years – an average of R102.8m per year; in other words, half a billion Rand.

Read Also : EFF vows to probe Zuma’s Nkandla R7.8 million loan.

Breakdown of Costs

1. Annual Salary.

Zuma was inaugurated on 9 May 2009. His annual salary breakdown over that period is as follows:

• 1 April 2009 – 1 April 2010: R2 275 802.00 (11 months, R2 086 151.00)
• 1 April 2010 – 1 April 2011: R2 367 466.00 (1 year, 5% increase)
• 1 April 2011 – 1 April 2012: R2 485 839.00 (1 year, 5%)
• 1 April 2012 – 1 April 2013: R2 622 561.00 (1 year, 5.5%)
• 1 April 2013 – 1 April 2014: R2 753 689.00 (1 year, projected 5% increase)
• Five Year Total: R12 315 706.00.

The Presidency’s salary for 2013/14 at R2.75m based on a 5% increase, which is typical. The five year total is approximately (and very near to): R12 315 706.00.


The graph below sets out how the President’s salary has grown over the last nine years. Zuma’s current salary makes him the 4th best-paid state-leaders in the world.

Also read : Pres. Zuma is the 4th highest paid President in the world; See full list.

Graph 1: The President’s Salary

2. Medical Aid.

Pres. Zuma gets at least R1.3m as a medical aid contribution per year, outside of his salary. This would increase marginally with any salary increase. Five years at R1 300 000.00 equals approximately: R6 500 000.00 million.

3. Pension.

On a monthly basis, like every employed person, part of Zuma’s salary goes to his pension. If Zuma gets a 5% increase next year, the total pension payout figure on Zuma’s retirement will be: R2 753 689.00.

4. Spousal Support.

According to the Presidency, the budget for the Presidential Spousal Support Unit was R15 517 500 million for the 2009/10 financial year. At that time, Zuma had five wives. He now has six. The total over a five year term, at R15.5m per year, is thus at least: R77 600 000.00.

Also read : Nearly R9 M has been spent on purchasing 11 cars for Pres. Zuma’s wives in 3 years.


According to the reply to a March 2010 DA parliamentary question, the amount located to the spousal support unit  had increased from R4.5m in 2004/05 to R8m in 2007/8, to R15.5 million in 2009/10 under Zuma. In other words, it has effectively doubled.

Graph 2: The Spousal Support Unit Budget.

5. Official Vehicles.

Regulations set the amount at 70% of zuma’s annual salary and allow for two cars: one in Cape Town and one in Pretoria. 70% of Zuma’s currently salary is R1 835 792.00 which would make the total amount available to him R3 671 584.00. Cars can be replaced when they have travelled 120 000km or after five years. At the very least, then, Zuma would have purchased two new cars during his term, one in Cape Town and one in Pretoria, for a total amount to the taxpayer of, at least: R3 671 584.00

6. Flights – VIP Squadron.

For both domestic and international flights President Zuma is flown by a special squadron of dedicated VIP jets, reserved for senior members of the executive and operated by the Department of Defence. The primary such plane, a Boeing reserved for the President, is called Inkwazi.  The amount and costs of those flights for Zuma’s first three years were recently revealed to be:

• April 2009 – April 2010: 91 Flights
• April 2010 – April 2011: 92 Flights
• April 2011 – April 2012: 97 Flights

The total costs of those 286 flights was revealed to be R140 515 430.15, at an average cost of R491 000 per flight. Thus, the annual cost would be approximately R46 838 476.00 and the total cost, over five years, would be: R234 192 383.00.

7. Flights – Additional

The flights listed above are only those undertaken by the VIP squadron. However, the President has made use of other aircraft on an ad hoc basis. In September 2011, for example, while the Presidential Jet was being serviced, the Department of Defence hired a Boeing 727 to fly Zuma to America. The full cost of that flight was revealed to be R6 331 174.67. Another example is the world G20 summit in China where President Zuma and Minister Gordhan flew on two different private jets. However, it was later revealed that two further planes had ‘shadowed’ Zuma’s flight, in case his plane suffered some shortcoming – a South African Airways Airbus A340 and a Bombardier Global Express XRS, requiring around 35 crew members. Together with Zuma’s Boeing, the exercise is conservatively estimated to have cost R10 000 000.00. How many times this has happened during President Zuma’s term is unknown.


According to a document submitted to the National Assembly defence committee, operational spending on the President’s Jet for 2004/05 was R11m, rising to R23m in 2005/06 and just over R24m in 2006/07. The total amount for this period – R58m – was however later increased to around R78m.

8. Flights – VIP Protection Services.

In November 2009 South African Police Service (under which the VIP Protection unit falls) had purchased a Cessna Citation Sovereign private business jet, at a cost of R150 million, among other things to “transport VIP protection service advance teams to countries in Africa“. It is not known how often or at what cost the jet has been used to send advance teams ahead of presidential visits to other African countries.

9. Flights – Helicopters.

The helicopters form part of the VIP Squadron. He typically uses them for interim flights; for example, between the official residence King’s House in KwaZulu-Natal and his private residence in Nkandla. According to experts, an hour flight in such a VIP helicopter would cost between R60 000 and R80 000. It is understood that a ‘shadow’ helicopter follows the one escorting the President. A return flight to Nkandla in such a helicopter would last approximately five hours. If we use the conservative figure of 15 such flights a year at four hours per flight and at the minimum cost per hour of R60 000 for each such helicopter, that would translate to at least R14 400 000.00 per year and a five year total of: R72 000 000.00.

10. Overseas Allowances – President.

In 2010 Zuma spent 25 days overseas on official state visits. Another 49 days on other business (summits, etc.) for a total of 74 days abroad. Over the course of 2010 (April 2010 through April 2011) that works out to approximately R25 400.00 and, if we use 2010 as an average, R127 000.00 as a five year total.

2010: Presidential State and Working Visits

1. India (State Visit, June 2010); (DPSA stipend: 79 US Dollars) (3 days)
2. Libya (working visit July 2010); (102 US Dollars) (2 days)
3. Zimbabwe (working visit, July 2010); (109 US Dollars) (2 days)
4. China (State Visit, August 2010); (117 US Dollars) (3 days)
5. Russia (State Visit, August 2010); (127 US Dollars) (3 days)
6. Lesotho (State Visit, August 2010); (84 US Dollars) (2 days)
7. Egypt (State Visit, October 2010); (107 US Dollars) (2 days)
8. Cuba (State Visit, December 2010); (121 US Dollars) (3 days)
9. Mexico (State Visit, December 2010); (78 US Dollars) (3 days)
10. France (State Visit, March 2011); (107 US Dollars) (2 days)

Read also : Pres. Jacob Zuma’s days are numbered – Richard Calland.

• 25 days and $1 148
• $1 148 divided by 10 equals an average of $115 per day, per trip;
• 110% of $115 equals an average of $127 per day;
• Multiply that by 25 days equals $3 175;
• Multiply by an exchange rate of 8 Rand to the Dollars equals:
• R25 400.00

2010: Other Visits

Zuma undertook a further 23 trips abroad (49 days) in 2010 on other business, for a total of 33.

11. Overseas Allowances – First Ladies.

As set out, when accompanied by his wives, they each are entitled to the same allowance as Zuma qualifies for. It is difficult to determine how many of his wives accompany him on each trip. Some reports have suggested as many as four have accompanied him. I have not included a total because the amount would be incidental and, in all likelihood, is covered by the budget for Spousal Support Unit.

12. Accommodation – Hotels.

If one again uses 2010 as an average, of the 74 days abroad, the President would have spent 42 days overnight. It is difficult to tell where Zuma has stayed, but an internet search suggests the hotels used have been upmarket. In India he stayed at the five star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. One night there in a luxury suit costs approximately R25 000 per night. The Presidential suit, even more. In New York he is report to stay at the Carlton Ritz, costing as much as R50 000 a night. If we take a conservative average of R20 000 per night and assume half his nights overseas – 21 – are funded by the South African state, that works out to an annual average of R420 000.00 and a five year total of: R2 100 000.00

13. Accommodation – Official Residencies.

The Ministerial Handbook allows for members of the executive to stay rent free at official residences.The President has five such residencies available to him:

1.Mahlamba Ndlopfu (Pretoria)

2.Genadendal (Cape Town)

3.Oliver Tambo House (Pretoria)

4. Highstead (Cape Town)

5. Dr John L Dube House (formerly King’s House, Durban).

They are each managed by the Department of Public Works. Obviously the cost of maintenance and upkeep of these houses must accrue to the President. Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane revealed that the running costs of the five presidential homes was in excess of R5 300 000.00 for 2009/10, excluding the salaries of the 113 staff employed to service them. A conservative five year total is thus: R26 500 000.00.

14. Accommodation – Private Residencies.

The President owns a number of private homes, for him and his wives. Of these, two are his primary private residencies: a house in Forest Town, Johannesburg and Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal. Obviously the cost of the houses and their maintenance is for the President’s private expense but the state to provide security for them. More is known about Nkandla. According to a reply to a DA parliamentary question in August 2010, R6 400 000.00 was spent on security for the home, including a helipad, clinic and road bypass.

Read also : Pres. Zuma’s brother urges him to quit or risk being killed.

15. VIP Protection.

In March 2009, the Minister of Safety and Security revealed that the state spent R998 815.89 per month protecting Jacob Zuma. That amount includes close as well as static protection (guarding his homes), overtime, vehicle and telephone costs. This was prior to Zuma becoming President. Since then, no doubt, it has increased significantly. However, we can safely use the figure of R1 million per month as a credible estimate. On that basis, the annual cost would be at least R12 000 000.00 and, over five years, at least R60 000 000.00.




One can do various things with the R514 million figure. For example, one could break it down by term, year, month, week, hour, even minute:

Five Years: R514 145 362.00.
One Year: R102 829 072.00.
One Month: R8 569 089.00.
One Week: R1 977 482.00.
One Day: R282 497.00.
One Hour: R11 770.00.
One Minute: R196.00.

Put another way, in the 15 or so minutes it has taken you to read this article, Zuma has cost the public R3 000.

One could also break the figure down into its major component parts. Over five years Zuma’s salary and related expenses will cost at least R25m; his accommodation at least R35m; his protection at least R60m and his flights at least R316m.

South Africa needs a President, Jacob Zuma or no Jacob Zuma, and so many of these costs would have been incurred by the public purse regardless. How one interprets them is a matter of opinion.

The South African public simply doesn’t know that the ANC government acts, conceal how much Jacob Zuma costs. Were it not for DA parliamentary questions, the overwhelming bulk of this information would be hidden. Indeed, very often, even where replies were secured, they had to be fought for. The truth has been resisted at every turn. That this information has been so carefully guarded must tell one something.

NB : this article was written by a content writer.

Also read : Top 10 areas pres. Zuma have failed us the most, by Lindiwe Naledi.