South Africa’s polygamist president Jacob Zuma faces demands to be stripped of £1.2m state support for his FOUR wives
- Members of his own ANC party say taxpayer-funded spousal support should be limited to just one wife
Daily Mail Reporter
10:01 EST, 21 June 2012
10:01 EST, 21 June 2012
South Africa’s polygamist president Jacob Zuma could lose the £1.2 million he receives from the taxpayer to fund his four wives, it has been reported.
Members of the 70-year-old president’s own ANC party have suggested the spousal support allowance he currently receives, which is almost double that of his predecessors, should be restricted to one wife.
While Mr Zuma’s wives are not taking their turn accompaning him on his travels, they stay in individual, luxury thatched huts in his rural homestead or homes in cities.
Ladies in waiting: South Africa’s polygamist president Jacob Zuma could lose the £1.2 million he receives from the taxpayer to fund his four wives, it has been reported
South Africa’s Times newspaper reported that members of Mr Zuma’s own ruling party the African National Congress planned to raise the issue next week at a policy meeting.
The publication said unnamed ANC officials had told its sister newspaper the Daily Dispatch they felt angry about the apparent waste of public funds.
One delegate due to attend the party’s policy conference said some activists believed Mr Zuma should pay for his extra spouses himself.
He said: ‘What was made clear during the discussions was that, as taxpayers, we cannot afford to continue financing so many wives.
‘Only wife number one should get benefits from the state.
‘Our understanding is that when you decide to have more than one wife, you are able to support the others. Then deal with it.’
The Times reported that the possible showdown on Mr Zuma’s spouses followed discussions about the president’s private life by ANC conference delegates from South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.
President Zuma poses with three of his four wives (L-R) Sizakele Khumalo, Nompumelo Ntuli and Thobeka Mabhija in 2010
The group of activists met on Monday to discuss possible policy changes ahead of the ruling party’s key conference next week.
It was reported that members of the organisation’s Eastern Capre provincial economic transformation commission backed a proposal that taxpayers should pay for only one presidential wife.
Party sources said the proposed new policy would be discussed again by the provincial members on Friday.
If the Eastern Cape delegates agreed to take the issue further, the matter could then be tabled for discussion next week at the ANC’s national policy conference in Johannesburg.
Mr Zuma, South Africa’s first polygamist president is a member of the country’s Zulu tribe and permitted to take multiple spouses by law. He has been married a total of six times and has four current wives.
The country’s first ladies are currently looked after by the office of the Presidency, where they share official first lady duties on a rota.
However the use of public funds for the presidential spouses has been a contentious issue since Mr Zuma’s election as national leader in 2009.
The Presidency stated earlier this year that the department’s budget for ‘spousal support’ was around £1.2m for the 2010/11 financial year.
Local media reported that sum was around double the amount spent by Mr Zuma’s presidential predecessors Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, who both have just one wife.
The controversy was heightened last year following reports the government had budgeted around £60,000 to have a fleet of luxury hire cars on standby across the country for Mr Zuma’s spouses.
Tribesman: President Jacob Zuma at his traditional Zulu wedding to Nompumelelo Ntuli in 2008 and (right) his most recent bride Tobeka Madiba arrives for her wedding in 2010
And in April the Presidency was forced to make a statement on the spousal budget following fresh negative media reports ahead of Mr Zuma’s latest nuptials.
A spokesman for the statesman said the taxpayer would not face any extra bills following the president’s marriage to Gloria Bongekile Ngema.
However it confirmed that was because Ms Ngema, a businesswoman and graduate, had previously already qualified for support as a fiancee of the president.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj later said the taxpayer only funded the first ladies when they were on official duty.
He said: ‘The spouses pay their own living or household expenses, be it food, mortgages, lights, water and so forth.
‘Nothing is paid for by the state in the spouses’ four households. They live in private homes.
‘There are, however, expectations that spouses will provide support to the president in the execution of his duties, and specifically so at state and official functions.
‘The Presidency therefore provides reasonable administrative, logistical and other support .’
Mr Zuma, who is believed to have fathered more than 20 children, wed his long-standing first wife Sizakele Khumalo, 69, in 1973.
He married Nompumelelo Ntuli, 37, in 2008 and wed third current wife Thobeka Madiba, 39, in 2010.
His traditional wedding to Ms Ngema in April has left him with four current spouses.
The six-times married statesman has previously wed two other women.
He divorced from South African cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 1999 and another wife, Kate Mantsho-Zuma, committed suicide in 2000.
The president’s four wives live in separate quarters at his rural home in the country’s KwaZulu-Natal province.
They each take turns to support their husband during official engagements and overseas trips.
The fresh questions over Mr Zuma’s private life comes as the president prepares to seek re-election as party leader.
ANC members will consider the leadership in December at the organisation’s five-yearly national conference.
Local media has buzzed with speculation senior figures could be preparing to challenge Mr Zuma’s leadership, although nobody has yet formally declared their intention to do so.
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Category: Africa News