Free perks for ministers: Here are 8 car, travel and housing benefits

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni will have the last say on the cost of the vehicles for ministers. (Getty Images, AFP)
Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni will have the last say on the cost of the vehicles for ministers. (Getty Images, AFP)

The government has published an updated Ministerial Handbook, effective from June 8, 2019, which gives Finance Minister Tito Mboweni widespread powers to curb spending on luxury cars. However, the Democratic Alliance has rejected it saying it is tantamount to giving a minister a blank cheque.

Here are some perks in the revised guide for members of the executive:

The cost of the vehicle, including the security upgrades, will be determined by the minister responsible for Finance.

Departments may only replace a motor vehicle purchased for a Member, if:
 
(a) the vehicle has reached 120 000 km or 5 years, whichever comes first; or
(b) the vehicle experiences serious mechanical problems and is in a poor condition, in which event a detailed mechanical report by the vehicle manufacturer or approved dealer is required.

Any additional maintenance, such as tyres, fuel, oil, toll fees and repairs will be done through a transversal contract administered by the Department responsible for Transport for this purpose.

Travel

National Members and their spouses are jointly entitled to 30 single domestic business class flight tickets per annum.

No daily subsistence and travel allowance is payable to a member, member's spouse (or an adult family member who accompanies the member instead of a spouse) or minor children for domestic travel.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers may be accompanied by their spouse (or an adult family member instead) on, no more than two international trips per financial year if:

(a) the trip undertaken is longer than 3 days; or
(b) the Minister or Deputy Minister is invited to attend official duties accompanied by a spouse or adult family member.

Housing

Members may, for official purposes, occupy a state-owned residence in the seat of office free of charge.

The State’s contribution shall be R250 000 for security measures for a private residence designated as an official residence and one other private residence which is not designated as an official residence.

The Department responsible for Public Works will be responsible for the costs associated with the provision of water and electricity to official residences, including a private residence designated as an official residence.

Rentals for cellular telephones (as well as the costs of official calls), the installation and maintenance of fax, internet/wifi and DSTV facilities for official use at official residences and computer equipment for use by the member are payable by the relevant department.

'A blank cheque for ministers'

On Sunday the DA rejected the revised ministerial handbook.

"The handbook in its current form is nothing more than a blank cheque for Ministers to spend the people's money on their own private affairs," said DA spokesperson on Public Service and Administration Leon Schreiber.

He said changes are unsustainable and costs should be drastically amended to cut back on wasteful expenditure.

"President [Cyril] Ramaphosa previously committed to a revised Ministerial Handbook that would cut lavish ministerial expenditure, however this has turned out to be just another broken promise."

The revised ministerial handbook, said Schreiber, does the exact the opposite.

"To add insult to injury, South African taxpayers are also expected to pay for domestic services, at ministers’ residences, and even their DSTV, at three houses per minister," he said.

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