OPINION

DA wants Padayachie's hotel stay probed

Natasha Michael requests that Public Protector investigate Sunday Times report

Communications Minister's expenses: DA writes to Public Protector

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will today be writing to the Public Protector requesting that she investigate the new Minister of Communications, Roy Padayachie's, excessive accommodation bill (see Sunday Times report).

Reports in the media indicate that during his tenure as the deputy minister of communications, Mr. Padaycahie spent over R2 million of state funds on luxury accommodation and room service bills at Pretoria's five-star luxury Sheraton Hotel.

Such expenditure raises serious ethical questions about the use of public funds by members of the executive. While we can certainly understand that there is, from time to time, a need for ministers to stay in outside accommodation, there is a disturbing tendency of some members of President Zuma's cabinet to engage in excessive and self-indulgent spending on such items as luxury cars and protracted hotel stays at the expense of the South African people.

As such, I shall be asking the Public Protector to investigate. This falls within the Public Protector's investigative mandate, as it is clearly a public interest matter - public funds were used to fund this extravagant extended hotel stay. We will ask the Public Protector to investigate the state of the house allocated to Minister Padayachie, and to interrogate his claim that the house was structurally unsound. We need clarity on the reasons for the Minister's need to stay at a luxury five-star hotel instead of a more reasonable alternative in the immediate vicinity, and the reason that this accommodation bill has only surfaced now and was not picked up and acted upon as an irregular expense by the Auditor-General.

In a country beset by poverty and plagued by service delivery problems, such spending is unethical and immoral. It needs to stop and the South African public has a right to know if members of the executive are abusing their privileges.

Statement issued by Natasha Michael, MP, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Communications, November 22 2010

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