Following a growing concern over the use of tax payers monies to buy luxury cars for top government officials, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said it was necessary because the top officials need them for their far distance journeys.
Speaking in response to reports by the Democratic Alliance (DA) that the South African government under Zuma’s administration lavished over R40 million on luxury cars, Minister Faith Muthambi said that ministers and deputies pick expensive rides because they are required to travel far distances, in far flung rural and urban areas of the country.
The DA reported that between 2014 and 2017, the ANC government spent a total of R 41 960 075.91 on the procurement of luxury vehicles – including Audis, BMW SUVs, and a Porsche- for Ministers and their Deputies.
The party went on to mention the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform as the highest purchaser of these luxuries as it allegedly splurged an enormous R 5 505 351,65 on cars for Minister Gugile Nkwinti and his deputies.
Other top spenders DA exposed are listed below:
- Department of Transport – R 3 453 870,87
- Department of Justice – R 3 275 138
- Department of Public Enterprise – R 2 669 377,77
- Department of Agriculture – R 2 502 425,10
- Department of Telecommunications – R 2 383 769,14
Reacting to these, Minister Faith Muthambi described the purchase ‘as tools of the trade’.
“It needs emphasizing that no illegality or crime is committed in government purchasing vehicles for ministers and their deputies.”
“The ANC is the party of liberation and continues to receive accolades for its efforts in ameliorating the material condition of the poor majority who are in the black and African,” the minister said.
For instance, the Minister of Water and Sanitation must ensure that the community of Thohoyandou in Limpopo and those of Tsomo or Lusisiki in the Eastern Cape are equally served in terms of water provision, Minister Faith Muthambi replied, adding that she would have to respond to emergencies that come time to time in such provisioning.
“Same as with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Ministers and their deputies are not office bound nor are they based in one province. Travelling to inland provinces and to communities demands of them to use these vehicles.”
Giving Muthambi’s reply a voice, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) released a statement where it further noted that the purchase of these vehicles were not fruitless as is largely assumed.
“The purchase of these vehicles does not constitute fruitless and wasteful expenditure. If this was the case, such procurement would have been flagged by the Auditor-General during departmental audits,” says the GCIS acting director-general, Donald Liphoko,
“Government has stated repeatedly that motor vehicles are amongst the tools that enable Ministers to efficiently and effectively execute their duties,” he said while pointing out that some of the vehicles highlighted by the DA were at the end of their life cycle and would have been replaced in the period 2014 to 2017 resulting in additional costs.
“This critical outreach to the country’s rural population which was last measured at 19.3 million in 2015, according to the World Bank, is essential in ensuring inclusivity, social cohesion and oversight of government work intended to uplift all our citizens,” Liphoko added.
The Information System further explained that in the past six months, ministers and deputy ministers have undertaken 808 public participation events which saw them visiting all the nine provinces of South Africa and that each of the government-purchased vehicles are procured within the National Treasury prescripts and that the rules concerning vehicle fleet replacement are also clearly stipulated in the Ministerial Handbook.
“The Ministerial Handbook clearly states in Chapter 5 No 1.2.1: Members at national level may be provided with one vehicle for use in Cape Town and one vehicle for use in Pretoria,” said Liphoko who also noted that departments may purchase new vehicles only when the currently provided official vehicle for that office has reached 120,000 km or 5 years, whichever comes first.