DURBAN – President Jacob Zuma is among the world’s highest paid heads of state with a salary that dwarfs those of leaders whose countries’ economies are bigger. According to CNN Money, Zuma’s R2.7 million salary ($223 500) is more than Japan’s Shinzo Abe, who earns $202 700 (R2.4m), and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who earns $214 782 a year (R2.57m).
It is also higher than France’s Francois Hollande who, after slashing his salary by 30 percent, earns $194 251 (R2.3m).
When compared with the other four major emerging national economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China (South Africa is the fifth) – that make up the Brics bloc, Zuma’s pay tops the scale.
Cold war superpower, Russia, pays its president, Vladimir Putin, $136 000 (R1.6m) while Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff earns $120 000 (R1.4m).
Indian President Narendra Modi takes home just $30 300 (R363 600) while China’s President Xi Jinping, who runs the world’s second biggest economy, earns $22 000 (R264 000).
According to CNN Money, Xi Jinping’s salary increased by 60 percent earlier this year.
The biggest earner is President Barack Obama who earns $400 000 (R4.8m) a year and also receives a tax-free expense account worth $50 000 (R600 000).
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper earns $260 000 (R3.1m), while Germany’s Angela Merkel takes home $234 383 (R2.8m).
The director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, advocate Paul Hoffman, said the obvious question should be whether Zuma is able to match his income with his effectiveness.
He said it was inappropriate in a country where people go to bed hungry for the president to be among the world’s top earners.
“Politicians should not be living as high on the hog as they do in South Africa. Our government institutions require the state to respect, promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights.
“If politicians allowed themselves fantastic salaries then politics becomes a money-making enterprise instead of an opportunity to serve the people in an open, accountable and responsive manner. That is a fundamental principle in section 1 of the constitution,” Hoffman said.
“For South Africa’s president to be among the world’s highest earners in the face of the country’s socio-economic problems and so many people living in poverty is inappropriate.”
Hoffman said that unlike the chief executive of a corporate company whose aim was profit, the Office of the Presidency served the people of South Africa.
Presidential spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said on Thursday that he could not comment on the report because he had not read it yet.
Earlier this year, the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers recommended that the salaries of public office bearers earning more than R1m receive a 5 percent increase, while officer bearers earning less than R1m receive 6 percent from April 1.
This takes Zuma’s salary from R2.62m to R2.75m and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s from R2.47m to R2.6m. Ministers would receive R2.21m from R2.1m and the salaries of deputy ministers would increase from R1.73m to R1.82m.
The Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s salaries would increase from R2.47m to R2.6m. Members of Parliament’s salaries would increase from R933 852 to R989 883 while premiers’ salaries would increase from R1.98m to R2.08m. Mayors would receive R1.15m, up from R1.09m. – Independent Online