The hot wheels of our Cabinet ministers

2013-09-08 10:00

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Ministers and their deputies have been buying cheaper cars than they did four years ago, when their departments forked out more than a million rand on official wheels in some cases. But they’re still not buying bargain basement specials.

New cars bought in 2012 and 2013 ranged in price from just more than R550 000 for a Nissan Pathfinder for Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to nearly R900 000 for a BMW X6 for Deputy Correctional Services Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi.

Recent parliamentary questions by the DA revealed that 10 ministers and their deputies spent almost R7.3 million on new cars.

Correctional Services head commissioner Tom Moyane said it was the first time Ramathlodi had bought a car since his appointment. “He inherited a car of which the mileage was high. It needed to be replaced.”

This year, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu bought a new Mercedes-Benz E350 for R706?389.

This bill was lower than that racked up by her predecessor, Fikile Mbalula, who spent almost R1.6 million on two new vehicles shortly after his 2009 appointment – a BMW 7 Series for R832 700 and a Mercedes ML500 for R759 529.

Not one of the new cars recently bought cost more than R1?million.

In 2009, some ministers, including Higher Education Minister and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, blew more than a million rand on their official luxury cars. Nzimande’s BMW 750i cost R1.1 million.

Former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda caused an uproar when he spent R1.3 million and R1.1?million, respectively, on BMW 750is.

In response, then public service minister Richard Baloyi said government would consider moves including downgrading the quality of cars ministers used, which would be included in a new Ministerial Handbook. But four years later, it is still to be published.

DA spokesperson for transport Ian Ollis said it did not make sense for ministers to buy new cars so close to next year’s elections, when their terms of office would end. He also said a number of departments didn’t want to respond to the DA’s questions.

“What do these ministers have to hide?” he asked.

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