South African President Jacob Zuma dances with Tobeka Madiba at his homestead… (Rajesh Jantilal / AFP/Getty…)
CAPE TOWN — South Africa is spending more than $2 million a year to support polygamist President Jacob Zuma's wives and children, almost double the budget from a year ago, a minister said on Tuesday.
The 68-year-old Zuma, who currently has three wives, recently admitted to fathering his 20th child out of wedlock with the daughter of a friend, drawing flak for a cavalier attitude to sex in a country with one of the world's biggest HIV/AIDS caseloads.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question, Collins Chabane, a minister charged with monitoring government performance, said the state had a 15.5 million rand budget for Zuma's family this year.
The "spousal office" paid for personal support staff, such as secretaries and researchers, as well as domestic and international air travel and accommodation, Chabane said.
Cellular phones for spouses and their secretaries, laptops and printers and a special daily allowance for "incidental" expenses were also covered.
"The state provides all reasonable administrative, logistical and other support to the spouses to enable them to meet these responsibilities in a manner that permits them actively to pursue their own careers and interests if they so desire," he said.
Mrs Thobeka Zuma was engaged in community work related to health, Mrs Sizakele Zuma was dealing with agriculture and food security, while Mrs Nompumelelo Zuma was working with orphans and vulnerable children, he said.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Giles Elgood) REUTERS Reut10:57 03-16-10