As each day goes by the anticipation about the fate of President Jacob Zuma builds. With news breaking on Tuesday morning that the ANC’s national executive committee had resolved to recall Zuma, the question now is will he resign or will he be impeached? And how he goes will determine how much he will cost the country in the years to come.
If he resigns, Zuma will be entitled to a comfortable package much like South Africa’s other former presidents.
If he retires Zuma will be entitled to his full salary that amounts to R2 989 845.
If the motion of no confidence brought by opposition parties does not succeed, he can still be impeached, which is a more punitive method of removal. If he is impeached, he will lose all the retirement benefits.
Should he die, half of his retirement is meant to be received by his spouses. It is not clear whether this would be divided among all four of his wives or if each wife would receive 50% of that amount.
According to the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, Zuma would also be entitled to medical aid and the amount of this would be determined by the National Assembly.
The salary amounts and benefits of the president, the ministers and deputy ministers are recommended by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Office Bearers, which is appointed by the president.
Holders of public office receive salaries and benefits that are coordinated by the Government Pensions Administration Agency together with National Treasury. This is according to Peter Makapan, head of secretariat at the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers.
The contentious ministerial handbook, which has been said to be a confidential document, outlines a number of benefits and allowances Cabinet members and executives of the country should receive upon retirement.
The presidency has been quoted as saying that they rely on this document in the absence of specific guidelines for the president’s pension.
“[The] commission considers, among others, Section 8(6) of the Independent Commission for Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act of 1997 when making recommendations. The interpretation of anything relating to ministerial handbook rests with Cabinet,” said Makapan.
However, if Zuma is impeached or removed through a motion of no confidence he will not be entitled to any retirement benefits.
A presidential package
The benefits in the ministerial handbook include the following:
• VIP protection is provided and this service may continue for as long as the minister for safety and security may deem necessary.
• Travel privileges are administered and paid for by Parliament, which comes into effect on the first day after the president leave office. This includes a limited number of flight tickets per year and is excluding the journeys made when vacating state-owned residences.
• A maximum of two clerical assistants may be placed at the disposal of former ministers, deputy ministers and other members of the executive.
• In addition, the president will receive a housing allowance of 10% of his salary to contribute to a private home.
• According to media reports the president will receive a car allowance equal to 25% of his yearly salary to purchase a private car.
• Other reports indicate that the president will also receive security that is provided by the state for life after leaving office.
The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Office Bearers has made similar retirement recommendations for previous presidents:
Former president Nelson Mandela received resources for a private office upon his retirement, which included basic office furniture for Mandela and his secretary. The government paid for the secretary and provided one laptop and a cellphone.
He received reduced security personnel both locally and internationally. The South African Police Services paid for the bodyguards travel and accommodation. Mandela received an armoured car and one security vehicle for the extra bodyguards in South Africa.
He also received unlimited local air travel on domestic airlines and air travel on international travel only when he acted on behalf of the government.
He later also received a permanent medical team.
The former first lady Graça Machel was also entitled to a car and driver and one bodyguard according to Mandela’s retirement package.
“The director-general of each administration has the power to change these to ensure that the retiring head of state then benefits from it. Cabinet has to approve of it of course. When it is changed then, all former heads of state are entitled to benefit from the new regulations,” said Mandela’s former private secretary, Zelda la Grange.
Former president Thabo Mbeki received a pension salary of R2.1 million and a fully paid medical insurance.
The difference with Zuma’s retirement package is that he has more spouses than any other president since 1994 and has significantly more children. This may result in his retirement costing the country more money. However, the decision of the extent to which Zuma’s family will receive benefits rests on the National Assembly.