Cape Town - The budget for the spousal support office in the presidency nearly doubled last year after President Jacob Zuma took power, a response to a Parliamentary question revealed on Tuesday.
The budget was increased to R15 517 500 for 2010 in the mid-year adjusted estimates of national expenditure, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said in response to a question by the Democratic Alliance.
In the 2008/09 financial year - when Kgalema Motlanthe succeeded Thabo Mbeki as president - the budget for the spousal support office was R8 076 709.
The allocation covers the cost of employing a personal secretary and a researcher to support the president's wives in projects relating to government work.
His first wife Sizakele Zuma is involved in projects on agriculture, his second wife Nompumelelo Zuma helps orphans and vulnerable children, and Thobeka Madiba, whom Zuma married in January, is engaged in community health issues, Chabane said.
The presidency also pays for laptops and cellphones for the president's wives and their staff and gives them a special allowance for expenses during official trips.
Chabane said figures on how much money was spent on the president's wives and his children would only be available later this year.
He confirmed that the presidency covers costs and benefits relating to the president's children whether they were born in wedlock or not.
The issue became contentious earlier this year after Zuma admitted fathering a child with the daughter of soccer tycoon Irvin Khoza.
At the time the presidency refused to say whether the child would be registered as a dependent and would qualify for state-sponsored benefits such as medical aid.
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