South Africa Doubles Wives' Budget For Polygamous Zuma

South Africa's official spending on the family of the president has doubled under the leadership of Jacob Zuma - who has three wives and 20 children. Government minister Collins Chabane said Mr Zuma's family expenses were 15.5m rand ($2m; 1.3m) - up from 8m rand under his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. It covers his wives' travel, mobile phones, staff and general expenses. Mr Zuma's lifestyle has been under scrutiny after it emerged he was months late in declaring financial interests. Critics accused him of breaking the official code of conduct - allegations he denied. Details of the family expenditure come after a declaration of Mr Zuma's interests and gifts, which he submitted earlier this week. Although the document has not been made public, local media reported that the president's list included blue silk robes, bed sheets and sunglasses- apparently a gift from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. And it was claimed that Mr Zuma's second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, lives rent free in a eight-bedroom mansion owned by two businessmen. Although his wives and family have no designated role, they are expected to accompany the president on official trips. In a written answer to a parliamentary question, Mr Chabane said the wives also supported a number of charities. "The state provides all reasonable administrative, logistical and other support to the spouses to enable them to meet these responsibilities in a manner that permits them actively to pursue their own careers and interests if they so desire," he said. The AFP news agency reports that Mr Zuma's children are classified as financially dependent until they reach the age of 27, as long as they are studying and not married. Although the total budget set aside for Mr Zuma's wives is higher than under Mr Mbeki, South Africans will pay less, per wife, than they did for Mr Mbeki's wife Zanele. Since taking office in 2009, the 68-year-old has been dogged by allegations about his private life, and his government has faced growing unrest among poor South Africans over a lack of basic services such as water and sanitation. But Mr Zuma has indicated that he would stand for office again.