The ANC, the majority party in parliament, on Wednesday voted to grant former president Jacob Zuma generous pension benefits as well as agreeing to continue to pay his medical aid costs.
The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers had recommended last month that the pension and medical aid benefits Zuma should get should be equal to 100% of his salary upon retirement, that his estate should apparently continue to benefit from it even after he dies and that he should continue to get increases to ensure his salary remains in line with that given to the sitting president, in this case President Cyril Ramaphosa.
It was reported earlier this year that Ramaphosa currently earns about R3.6 million a year. He pledged half of that to a charitable fund managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The president’s basic salary is R2.98 million a year.
The recommendations particularly vexed the DA’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen, who argued passionately against such a move, as he did not believe the former president deserved it, particularly as many analysts and even the ANC itself had blamed him for facilitating large-scale state capture, for having been found to have broken his oath of office by the Constitutional Court and for leading the country into a technical recession, which happened after his removal in February.
In his speech, Steenhuisen also touched on unemployment, alleged corruption, issues at the SA Social Security Agency, the increased cost of living, the estimated R100 billion state capture had cost the country, the nearly R17 million in legal fees for Zuma, and more.
“Haven’t we paid enough? We [already] built a retirement village for Mr Zuma at Nkandla.”
Steenhuisen said passing the recommendation on the pension would be rewarding Zuma when he was not deserving of it.
“This house can refuse to pass this recommendation.”
Watch the speech below:
Despite the DA’s protestations, the House passed the recommendation anyway.
The ANC used its majority to approve the pension benefits after opposition parties had rejected it.
A total of 197 ANC MPs voted in favour of approving Zuma’s pension, while 95 opposition members voted against the motion.
The EFF also said Zuma should not be paid anything in retirement due to his allegedly dubious track record.
EFF MP Sam Matiase said: “We must not forget that Mr Zuma did not stand down willingly, he stood down because we were going to impeach him and was going lose all his benefits.”
The ANC argued Zuma had not been impeached and was entitled to his benefits.