ANC condemns 'minister in luxury hotel' reports

Ruling party says media is behaving mischievously and disingenuously


The African National Congress (ANC) condemns as sensationalism of the highest order the perpetuation by some sections of the mainstream media, that some Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers were wasting taxpayers' money by staying in "luxury" hotels while their State allocated houses were being refurbished by the Department of Public Works.

This media obsession with the so-called "luxury" as seen in reports about several ministers and deputy ministers, among others Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa,  Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, Deputy Communications Minister Dina Pule, who have stayed in hotels while their State allocated homes were being refurbished, reflects a dangerous trend in news reporting without  establishing facts to back up the "wasteful expenditure" charge.

The facts are that:

  • In line with the Ministerial Handbook and prescripts governing public representatives, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs), provincial MECs and Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) are entitled to stay in hotels while their permanent accommodation is not yet ready for occupation.
  • Ministers, MPs, MECs and MPLs are entitled to accommodation to be able to effectively carry out their public duties wherever they are.
  • There is nothing immoral, illegal or unconstitutional in public representatives staying in hotels as this is no breach of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) or the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook.
  • Regardless of political affiliation, MPs and MPLs have stayed in hotels when their State allocated accommodation was either being refurbished or not readily available. The question that we should all be asking is what informs this kind of reporting if it is not merely meant to tarnish the public image of ANC public representatives and the ruling ANC.  We can only conclude that this confirms our long-held suspicion that there exists a targeted campaign aimed at vilifying ANC ministers and deputy ministers. To stoop as low as to write about what ANC ministers and deputy ministers eat when the same cannot be said about members of opposition parties, smacks of gross bias and abuse of Press Freedom.

This kind of journalism is not only mischievous but disingenuous due to failure to properly inform the South African society about laws governing accommodation of public representatives.

No luxury can be derived in staying and working from a hotel environment where you have no total privacy than staying in a proper home.

The ANC appeals to members of the media to educate themselves about legislation governing accommodation of public representatives before jumping into dangerous conclusions. This unbalanced and sensational reporting without facts can only serve to give journalism a bad name, an issue the ANC will certainly take up with the Press Ombudsman and other authorities.

Statement issued by Jackson Mthembu, African National Congress national spokesperson, July 18 2010

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