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Ramaphosa to look into explosion of VIP protection costs

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be looking into issues contained in an Institute of Race Relations (IRR) report, which alleges that the budget allocated to VIP Protection Services exploded from R353-million in 2008/2009 to R1.5-billion in 2018/2019.

According to the report’s author, Gareth van Onselen, IRR head of politics and governance, this budget will be spent on providing protection services to the “president, deputy president, former presidents, their spouses, and other identified dignitaries while in transit”.

The report― titled SA’s Secret Police: Inside the Multi-billion Rand Clandestine VIP Protection Services, further states that the budget for VIP protective services is set to increase to R1.728-billion in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Van Onselen describes this as an expenditure explosion as the 2018/2019 amount of R1.5-billion and the 2020/2021 budget exceeds the total amount spent on VIP Protection Services for former president Thabo Mbeki’s entire second five-year term from 2004 to 2009, which cost R1.444-billion.

In the report, expenditure exploded astronomically during the ten years that marked the administration of former president Jacob Zuma, increasing from R353-million in 2008/2009 to R1.5-billion in 2018/2019.

Van Onselen notes that Ramaphosa would see out the last year of Zuma’s second administration.

Furthermore, over the ten-year course of Zuma’s two administrations (2009/2010 to 2018/2019 inclusive), a total of R9.528-billion would be spent on VIP Protection Services, in comparison to the nine-year total for Mbeki’s two administrations, which cost R2.343-billion, according to the report.

Van Onselen told News24 that there was no end to the number of concerns for these massive increases.

He said it was worrying that the budget for VIP protection had skyrocketed, but that there didn’t appear to be more work done to justify the budgets.

Van Onselen also found it worrying that there was no proper explanation for the increases and said there was a lack of accountability and oversight.

‘It’s all a mystery’

“Few things in South Africa are more visible and yet more secretive than the VIP Protection Services. We see them everywhere, but who they are, how they operate, how much they cost and what outcomes they are responsible for, generally remain a mystery,” said van Onselen.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the issues contained in the IRR report would receive attention.

“The president is on record having said he is aware there are inefficiencies and in certain instances wasteful expenditure in government. This is the reason he has initiated reconfiguration of government,” she said.

The South African Police Service, under which the VIP Protection Services fall, said they would not be commenting on the report until they have had an opportunity to study it in its entirety.

News24 reported that during the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup VIP Protection Services offered protection to the controversial Gupta family on five separate occasions.

More recently, during the run-up to the ANC’s elective conference in December, it also emerged that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was not a member of Cabinet at the time, was given VIP protection.— News24

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Alex Mitchley
Alex Mitchley
South African Journalist at News24

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