Ministers and their R41-million luxury rides: Best, worst govt cars


'We selected the best and worst choices of JZ’s government cars,' writes Lance Branquinho as a report reveals the SA  government spent R41-million on luxury vehicles.

Cape Town - People often question why government spends so much money on the ministerial automotive fleet. More specifically, the perceived ‘luxury’ vehicle purchases for different government departments.

Considering the importance of South Africa’s export-orientated auto-assembly industry, and crisis, should we really complain if government spends a fraction of our taxable income (or revenue) to reward the automotive industry for creating thousands of sustainable, high-income jobs? I think not. 

READ: SA Ministers' luxury cars: Minister Muthambi responds

What we should complain about, is when government departments spend a lot of money, buying a completely incorrect car for the ministerial portfolio it is supposed to serve in. That’s awful. It’s like your best friends buying the inappropriate car, you simply must raise the issue. 

Fortunately, we’ve been through the list detailing cabinet fleet vehicle purchases  for the period 2014-2016, so you don’t have to. It makes for disturbing reading if you are a petrolhead and surprising buying habits if you know who Machiavelli was. We selected the best and worst choices of JZ’s government cars.

Department of Public Works: 2015 BMW 535i (F10) R681 432.32

The good Jeremy Cronin, perhaps one of the last truly committed communists in the current cabinet, is an avowed anti-capitalist, but even he couldn’t resist the charm that is BMW’s F10 535i, which was purchased for him in January 2015. 

BMW’ sixth-generation 5 Series might no longer be in dealer showrooms but in 2015 it was effectively the best car in the world. And of its derivatives, why wouldn’t you want a 535?

Department of Agriculture: 2014 Q7 3.0 Tdi (they bought two, one for R630 953.38 and another for R626 199.72)


This is where it turns to a more serious debate. No satirical silliness. 

How could the department of mielies and cattle think they would escape scrutiny, buying not one, but two Q7 3.0 TDis for Minister Senzeni Zokwana back in 2014? Not only does Q7 not have low-range, it doesn’t run properly on 500ppm diesel, which is what all tractors, rural generators and agricultural delivery trucks use. 

This choice shows no fraternity for the constituency, who are all in bakkies. An absolute shame, perhaps even a scandal, that the Department of Agriculture did not purchase something wholly more appropriate, such as a white double-cab bakkie, for its minister. Inexcusable.

Should ministers and their deputies be allowed to spend this much money on vehicles? What would you recommend as alternatives to the vehicles purchased? Tell us via emailFacebook and Twitter.

Department of Women: 2015 BMW GT 550 R 926 007,61

Fortunately, sense prevailed at this department, with Minister Susan Shabangu taking delivery of a car the world never truly understood, BMW’s 5 Series hatchback.

An attempt to find the compromise between X5 and 5 Series, the Gran Tursimo was absurdly clever, with ridiculous luggage space but also looked terribly ungainly and is chronicled as a rare product failure for BMW. 

But if you are a contemporary South African mom, this is the choice vehicle for you. BMW driving dynamics (especially with that twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8), with supersized hatchback versatility. Minister Shabangu, your choice cannot be faulted. 

Department of Mineral Resources: 2016 Porsche Cayenne GTS R1 300 000

Eish, this choice poses many problems. Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant certainly forgot the purpose of his department and was seduced by the bi-turbo allure of Porsche’s big SUV. 

If you are going to buy anything built in Zuffenhausen, GTS is the badge to have; not as uncompromised as the GT-numeral cars, with all the best bits selected and added, you suffer no anxiety in the face of Porsche’s online configurator with GTS.

Unfortunately for Godfrey, mineral resources are often prospected for very much in the middle of nowhere. Just how well Oliphant’s GTS 20" rims and tyres will wear doing substantial mileages on South African gravel roads, which route to prospecting sites, remains highly debatable. 

He should have been smarter. He should have opted for the default prospector’s choice: either Geländewagen Professional or Land-Cruiser 79 Station Wagon.

Department of Public Service: 2016 Ford Everest 3.2 LTD R714 500,40

We don’t quite know what this department does, as not many hours go by in Mzansi without a service delivery protest somewhere in our shared geography. At least the Department of Public Service does get its vehicle purchase principles right.

Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi drives an SUV and it’s one of South Africa’s favourites; a Ford Everest 3.2 LTD, in 4x4 with the good sense to forego clutch and opt for the six-speed auto. It’s heartening a minister make a sensible choice, that or Ngoako has a cattle farm with Ngunis to visit, somewhere most cars would find inaccessible. 

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