Numsa backs calls for bling-book review
Johannesburg - Numsa has come out in support of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's call for the ministerial handbook to be reviewed to curb reckless spending.
"The call by the public protector should be welcomed by all genuine revolutionaries and servants of our people," National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesperson Castro Ngobese said on Thursday.
Speaking at a National Press Club briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Madonsela recommended the handbook be amended to set standards relating to ministerial accommodation.
The recommendation was contained in her report on a probe into allegations that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa spent more than R700 000 at two five star luxury hotels in Durban.
The handbook is produced by the public service and administration department as a guideline on executive spending. It applies to all national ministers and MECs.
Ngobese said the handbook review should be done through an open and democratic process. It could not be left in the hands of a few "conflicted individuals".
Excessive spending by government officials was wrong given current levels of unemployment, poverty and deepening inequalities, he said.
The union was not blind to the fact that security and accommodation should be considered when ministers travelled to do government work.
However, this did not mean a minister should be "recklessly spending tax-payers' money by staying in opulent and extravagant hotels or lodges".
This fed the notion that government office or position was a step-ladder to a better life for a few, Ngobese said.
In Madonsela's report there was no evidence that Mthethwa had influenced arrangements regarding his accommodation at the Table Bay and Durban Hilton hotels.
She said while the R734 448 spent at the hotels by Mthethwa and his staff was unreasonably high, there were no clear guidelines in the ministerial handbook on what constituted a reasonable tariff.
Mthethwa had stayed in the hotels while his official residence was being renovated. His staff had made the arrangements for his stay.
Madonsela suggested that recommended tariffs for ministers be published twice a year. She said no action should be taken against Mthethwa as he had not breached the Executive Members Ethics Act No 82 of 1998.