News24

Cut ministers' car benefit - DA

2009-07-26 14:27

Cape Town - The DA is proposing a range of cost-cutting measures for the executive, including doing away with free trips on the luxurious Blue Train, removing the right to a state sponsored domestic worker and cutting car allowances to a meagre R660 000.

Party leader Helen Zille said in Cape Town on Sunday economic times were tough and that the executive, like everyone else, should have to tighten their belts.

"This year, our economy is likely to shrink by almost 2% and we are deep in recession," Zille said.

"In the midst of this economic crisis, the government must demonstrate that it is prepared to make sacrifices and demonstrate some frugality."

Zille said her colleague, MP Anchen Dreyer, had submitted a letter to the director general in the presidency, Vusi Mavimbela, asking for certain amendments to be made to the ministerial handbook.

Fund own travels

This was in order to "reflect a more sympathetic appreciation for the plight that South Africa finds itself in".

One of the proposals is to cancel the right of members of the executive to make use of the Blue Train.

"Members of the executive currently are entitled to travel by train for official purposes at the cost of the relevant department, including travelling on the Blue Train," Zille said.

"It is not necessary for carrying out executive duties to travel on the Blue Train, and should members want to travel on the Blue Train, we believe they should fund this from their own pockets."

Members were entitled to a state-purchased car of a value equivalent to 70% of their annual salary. This equated to roughly R929 000.

"The DA believes that this is excessive. We propose that the benefit be reduced from 70% to 50%.

"This would entitle them to a car worth R663 780, which we believe is more than adequate for the purposes that members of the executive use their cars for."

Cancelling VIP lounges benefits

Another of the party's proposals is to cancel the right for the executive to make use of VIP lounges at airports during domestic trips.

"The DA proposes instead that members should not be allowed to use VIP rooms when travelling domestically, as it is not necessary to their jobs."

Domestic workers for members of the executive were also paid for by the taxpayer.

"Where members of the executive stay in private accommodation, they are... entitled to a domestic worker funded by the state. The DA has requested that this right be removed, so that ministers staying in their own houses pay for their own cleaning service."

The party has proposed a further stipulation that members of the executive not be allowed to use blue lights or sirens when being driven around, except in cases of genuine and verifiable emergency.

Zille said the executive was riddled with examples of "profligate spending".

One example was the communications department, which recently purchased two new BMW 750i cars valued at R1.1m each, for Minister Siphiwe Nyanda.

Another was KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize's inauguration party two months ago, which cost the taxpayer R10.6m.

"Across the country, citizens are protesting because of the conditions in which they live.

"In the midst of this economic crisis, the government must demonstrate that it is prepared to make sacrifices and demonstrate some frugality.

Zille said the party's proposals were being put into place in the Western Cape, where she is premier.

"We will be putting these to the president's office, in the hope that the national government will give consideration to implementing them too."

SAPA