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Taxpayers cough up for Cayenne

2009-12-11 07:19

Lizel Steenkamp

Cape Town - A deputy minister has bought herself a Porsche as her official vehicle, but Richard Baloyi, minister of public service and administration, insists no rules have been broken.

On Thursday it came to light that Hlengiwe Mkhize, deputy minister of correctional services, has bought herself a brand-new Porsche Cayenne as her official vehicle.

Taxpayers shelled out R760 000 for this luxury speedster, including accessories such as cruise control.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the minister of correctional services, said in answer to a question from the DA in Parliament, that she has bought a Lexus LS460 worth R970 000.

Baloyi couldn't understand why the DA MPs continued to pose questions regarding expensive official vehicles, since the Cabinet has already "settled" the matter on various occasions.

'Used for state duties'

According to a statement, the minister is concerned about opposition MPs' stubbornness regarding the matter.

"Official vehicles don't belong to the ministers. They are and remain state property, and simply serve as a tool used by ministers to fulfil their duties," said Baloyi.

He continued along the same vein, stating that the ministerial manual entitles each minister to buy two vehicles - one for Cape Town and one for Pretoria. The price of the vehicle may not exceed 70% of the minister's annual compensation package.

This package is worth over R1.7m.

"MPs must understand that no minister has broken the rules," said Baloyi.

On Thursday Athol Trollip, the DA's parliamentary leader, said he's got bad news for Baloyi.

"I don't care if we annoy him. The questions won't stop. We'll carry on until each minister and his or her deputy have answered which vehicles they've bought."

Cheaper tools

According to the DA's calculations, the new government has spent over R320m on official vehicles and parties over the past seven months.

Trollip believes the rules justifying such extravagant expenses must be revised.

"Why can some ministers get along fine with cheaper 'tools', while others are satisfied with nothing less than the most expensive?"

On Thursday Dumisani Nkwamba, Baloyi's spokesperson, said the revision of the ministerial manual will be completed by next week. The concept document will be published early next year in order to allow for public commentary.

He denied that Baloyi is trying to undermine the MPs' responsibility to hold the executive authority accountable by expressing his annoyance over their questions.

"No, the minister respects the right of members of parliament to ask any question," said Nkwamba.

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