While digging around on the web yesterday, I came across some fascinating data compiled by global network news channel CNN. The Atlanta-based team scoured through Government accounts to compare salaries paid to heads of State.
What drew my attention to the results was how South Africa’s Jacob Zuma ranked fourth overall, his US$ 223 500 a year package squeezing him between Angela Merkel and David Cameron.
But comparing nominal numbers can be like listing the earnings of someone running a branch office against those of his group’s CEO. A better reflection of taxpayer value is derived by comparing the leader’s salary with the size of the economy they run – how many dollars each President is paid for every US$ 1bn of their nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
Read also: How the world sees us: The Times – “Zuma is enemy of blacks and whites”
Easily the best value of those 12 leaders is Xi Jinping who gets a mere US$ 2.12 a year for each US$ 1bn of China’s GDP. The US’s Barack Obama is good value at US$ 23.06.
Only two of the leaders are paid over US$ 100 a year for each US$ 1bn in GDP – Canadian Stephen Harper at US$ 145.66 and then there’s Jacob Zuma whose pay is a staggering US$ 638.15 a year for each US$ 1bn of the SA economy. And that excludes the add-ons like stipends for his four wives and home improvements.
On a like-for-like basis, Zuma costs South African taxpayers 27 times what Americans pay for Obama; nine times Merkel; and a staggering 319 times more than Xi’s cost to Chinese taxpayers. Wouldn’t look so bad if the economy he is responsible for wasn’t also one of the worst performing.