Mining ministers' taxpayer-funded Merc, Porsche slammed

2017-02-22 21:24
Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)

Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane. (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)

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Cape Town - The Mercedes-Benz and Porsche the government bought for Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his deputy make a mockery of government's austerity measures, Cosatu said on Wednesday.

“It is worrying that while we are faced with deepening poverty as a country, with more than 17 million people on welfare; our political leaders continue with their champagne lifestyles unabated,” Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.

The department confirmed a Sowetan report that the vehicles had been purchased, but said everything was above board. According to the report, the Mercedes-Benz cost R1.35m and the Porsche R1.33m.

Department spokesperson Ayanda Shezi said the two were entitled to choose a car worth not more than 70% of their inclusive annual remuneration.

This is according to the Ministerial Handbook, which allows ministers a car in Cape Town and a car in Pretoria because of all the travelling they do for work, she explained in a statement on the department's website.

The officials could only get a new car once their current official vehicle reached 120 000km or had been driven for five years.

The cars Zwane and his deputy Godfrey Oliphant were using had reached this stage, she said.

Zwane had used vehicles hired from the government fleet since he joined the department in 2015 because the vehicle he had used was older than five years and had done over 200 000km. Treasury granted approval.

Cosatu believed that to do this, the ministers had to be oblivious to the plight of around 70 000 mineworkers who had lost their jobs over the past two years.

“Workers have been told about austerity measures since 2013, but it is now clear that this was just hot air and gruesome posturing by Treasury, seeing that they approved the purchase of these expensive cars,” said Pamla.

He warned that if Treasury could give the pair a “reprieve” on the austerity measures, struggling workers deserve the same treatment during salary negotiations and wage adjustments.

“This sends a very troubling message to the struggling poor people of this country and these lapses of common sense are participating in the downfall of the ANC-led government,” he said.

The Democratic Alliance was equally outraged.

“The DA believes both ministers should explain to the people of South Africa why they deserve such luxury and suggests they spend more time fixing the failing industry rather than cruising car showrooms to find the ostentatious vehicles that they prefer.”

Read more on:    cosatu  |  da  |  mosebenzi zwane  |  politics

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