Manyi wrong on ministerial mansions - Athol Trollip

DA says it's govt's answers which are embarrassing, not its questions

Mansions for Ministers: Where is the new Ministerial Handbook?

Government spin doctor Jimmy Manyi's accusation that the DA's exposé of government's R183 million spending spree on mansions for ministers was a "barefaced move" to embarrass the executive, misses the point entirely. It is not the DA's questions that are embarrassing, but the government's answers that embarrass the executive.

Mr Manyi's attempts to justify this splurge on the grounds that it adhered to "supply chain management processes" and is permitted by the Ministerial Handbook ring hollow when so many South Africans continue to live in poverty.

Spending money that could have been used to build 2,000 RDP houses on 34 new ministerial mansions is just plain wrong - whatever the Ministerial Handbook says.

The fact is that the Ministerial Handbook used at national level permits a level of state-funded luxury for Ministers that is not morally justifiable. This is precisely why the DA government in the Western Cape produced its own Handbook with stringent regulations to limit this kind of expenditure.

It is quite clear that the national Ministerial Handbook needs to change. Otherwise, the excuse will always be: "Because the Handbook says we can."

Faced with a public outcry over spending on luxury cars for ministers, government made a big noise in 2009 about amending the Handbook. Public Service Minister Richard Baloyi promised it would be done "certainly before the World Cup." In April this year, he said it would be completed "soon, very soon."

So where is it? No amendments have been made and the spending spree continues unabated.

Since Minister Baloyi promised to change the Handbook, we calculate that R693 million has been spent on luxury cars, perks for the President's spouses and buying and decorating ministerial houses. No wonder there is no rush to produce a new Ministerial Handbook.

I will today be submitting parliamentary questions to President Zuma and Minister Baloyi to request a full explanation for the delay in amending the Ministerial Handbook. The people of South Africa deserve to know what the hold-up is.

Statement issued by Athol Trollip MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, August 24 2011

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