DA vows to unearth luxury costs

2011-10-31 22:54
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has accused government of trying to hide the cost of ministers staying in hotels.

The DA was determined to find out how much public money national ministers were spending on staying at luxury hotels, spokesperson Ena van Schalkwyk said on Monday.

"But it is apparent that the government is equally determined to stop us," she said in a statement.

The DA had submitted parliamentary questions to each minister requesting details of the hotels they had stayed in and at what cost to the public purse.

Some, like Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson had already answered.

Others were refusing to answer. Of the 11 parliamentary replies ministers had sent through so far, five had refused to provide details of the cost, citing security concerns.

They were Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, and former public service and administration minister Richard Baloyi.

Bogus excuse

"Citing security concerns is obviously bogus. There is no way that revealing the cost of expenditure on luxury accommodation could compromise a minister's security," Van Schalkwyk said.

"We don't want to know where ministers are staying tomorrow; we want to know what they spent on hotels in the past."

This growing tendency to hide ministerial spending behind a security facade should be stopped in its tracks.

Government is accountable to Parliament and the public.

Ministers who refused to answer parliamentary questions, no matter how embarrassing the answers, were violating their obligation to transparency and accountability.

Van Schalkwyk said the DA would approach National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, requesting that he compel the ministers to answer the DA's parliamentary questions on their hotel spending.

"It is a reasonable question that demands a reasonable answer," she said.

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