Does Zuma deserve his R2.75 million salary?

A recent report by CNN Money finds that South African president Jacob Zuma’s annual salary of R2.75 million (or US$223,500) is one of the highest in the world.

The comparison put Zuma above world leaders such as UK Prime Minister David Cameron (who earns US$214,800 a year), France’s Francois Hollande (US$194,300) and Italy’s Matteo Renzi (US$124,600).

BusinessTech previously drew up a similar comparison, showing Zuma’s prominence among first world leaders.

Tabled below is a comparison looking at the reported presidential salaries, versus the gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries they run, as well as the GDP per capita.

GDP is one the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country’s economy.

Notably, South Africa is lowest on the list in terms of what it contributes to the global GDP, as well as in terms of GDP per capita.

Presidential salary vs GDP, GDP per capita

Country President Salary GDP GDP per capita
USA $400 000 $16.8 trillion $53 042
Canada $260 000 $1.5 trillion $43 247
Germany $234 400 $3.6 trillion $44 469
South Africa $223 500 $0.6 trillion $12 507
UK $214 800 $2.5 trillion $38 452
Japan $202 700 $4.6 trillion $36 449
France $194 300 $2.5 trillion $37 872
Russia $136 000 $3.5 trillion $24 114
Italy $124 600 $2.1 trillion $35 597
Brazil $120 000 $3.0 trillion $15 037

GDP from World Bank data, 2013, in international (PPP) dollars.

Looking at the average annual salary in the countries listed above, the same pattern of emerging market rulers taking proportionally larger salaries is shown.

Notably, in Brazil, president Dilma Rousseff draws a salary almost 13 times larger than the average salary earned in the country.

South Africa’s Zuma and Vladimir Putin of Russia draw similar figures, with salaries around ten times larger than the national averages.

Much of developed world trend towards salaries around five times larger than average, with the exception of the USA, where Barack Obama’s salary is seven times larger than the reported national average.

Presidential salary vs average salary

Country President Salary Average annual salary Multiple (% difference)
 USA  $400 000 $56 340 7.1x (610%)
 Canada  $260 000 $46 911 5.5x (454%)
 Germany  $234 400 $43 682 5.4x (436%)
 South Africa  $223 500 $22 056* 10.1x (913%)
 UK  $214 800 $41 192 5.2x (421%)
 Japan  $202 700 $35 405 5.7x (472%)
 France  $194 300 $40 242 4.8x (383%)
 Russia  $136 000 $14 580* 9.3x (833%)
 Italy  $124 600 $34 561 3.6x (260%)
 Brazil $120 000 $9 336* 12.8x (1185%)

Average salaries represent OECD data, 2013 and (*) ILO data, 2012, in international (PPP) dollars.

More on South Africa

Zuma’s salary vs other world leaders

Jacob Zuma’s new salary – R2.7 million

South Africa’s massive wage gap

South Africa among the most unequal countries

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Does Zuma deserve his R2.75 million salary?