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'Serve the people, not their egos' - Readers respond to SA Ministers' luxury cars

2017-04-05 07:58

Janine Van der Post

IN THE LAP OF LUXURY: The Mercedes-Benz E200 is on the list of minister cars in SA. Image: Wheels24/ Sergio Davids

UPDATE: The comments section is open below for this article.

Cape Town - Earlier in March, the Democratic Alliance investigated South African minsters' vehicle expenses and has found that more than R40-million has been spent by government on luxury cars.

READ: Ministers and their R41m luxury cars: Here's what govt spent YOUR money on

DA's Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration, Desiree van der Walt, said: "After submitting a range of parliamentary questions across all governmental departments, the DA can reveal that the government has spent a total of R41 960 075 on the procurement of luxury vehicles for Ministers and their Deputies between 2014 and 2017. 

Voting booth

We asked Wheels24 readers to share their thoughts on government's luxury cars. Check out the full list of vehicles at the end of the article 

More than 26 000 readers believe spending more than R41-million on cars is a 'disgusting waste of tax payers' money while only 565 readers feel the spend is justified.

What do you think of Ministers spending on luxury cars? What would you recommend as alternatives to the vehicles purchased? Tell us via emailFacebook and Twitter.

Former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, has responded to the article: 

READ: Minister Muthambi's response verbatim

Readers respond

Peter Leshiba: Some news is not news really. As a South African and black, I understand the plight South Africans are confronted with. I'm equally very concerned about the state capture that is happening and/or alleged to be happening. All these and the poor management of the state are worrying to me.

However, I think the DA is deliberately misleading the public by insinuating that the Ministers do not deserve the cars that they are buying. It has been correctly stated that they can spend a portion of their salaries towards the car as long as it does not exceed the stated quota of one third. They are well within their rights to spend within their benefits. What should they drive, Corolla?

They are Ministers they deserve decent cars.

Lochner Eksteen: Should a minister need a 4X4 to perform his/her function then a Toyota Fortuner or similar, is more than adequate. If a SUV is preferred, the only Kia, Hyundai, RAV or similar, should be allowed. As far as sedans are concerned, no more than Audi 4 series, BMW 3 Series or Merc 200 series should be allowed. Anything more expensive, is only for extravagant luxury and showing off and a waste of tax payer money.

Alphius Mabotja: I don’t think it would be cool for ministers to drive the cheaper cars because the car industry would not develop if they are to manufacture only entry level cars that are meant for the middle and the working classes. The high earners should weigh in for those cars for the survival of the industry. 

Les Smith: This is a common response used by them all. If they are criticized or brought to book they revert to cliches like aspersions and the legality of it all to justify their over exuberance. This is similar to playing the race card when they are in a corner and have nowhere to turn.

The problem with this government is that they are all too busy trying to be important that they forget to do their jobs and why they are in those positions in the first place – to serve the people of SA not their egos. 

Puleng Mapeto: It is so shocking for Faith Muthambi to even try to justify this exorbitant buy. It's our tax money. We don't care who raised this issue. ANC think to pin-pointing the DA will hide what highlights the mentality they display. ANC lost its grip and morality. Spending so much on cars while the poor and needy people still sleep with empty stomachs. Shocking indeed.
I'm actually disappointed and shocked that the minister was not shocked to know that you are doing day to day work with R1.4m vehicle.  

Sue Malcomess: Just one comment on the minister of communication's response.  As justification for these vehicles she says ministers are required to travel round the country. The author of the article did make a comment about there not being any 4x4 vehicles on the list. I agree with him that maybe this type of vehicle would be practical when visiting rural areas. From the list it's apparent that vehicles on bought on image and not practicality.

Johnathan Scott: Will a R350k vehicle provide the utility of a R900k vehicle. Is that R650k justifiably spent on doing presumably the same thing? What can be done with R650k? Lastly, why justify something that's wrong because it isn't illegal?

Peter Scott: Faith Mutambi is a typical ANC cadre/comrade deployement, they find nothing wrong with spending vaste amounts of money on themselves at the expense of the tax paying citizen. There is absolutely no reason why they cannot use a middle range reasonably priced vehicle......and let's face it most of SA business works like this! But no!.....it is "look how rich I am....look how successful I am" driving around in a tax payers car.

Tristan Lawrence: Typical government arrogance. You don't need to do your job in a luxury R1-million rand car, when your people are struggling.

Waldemar Keyser: Look at India and what ministers drive there.

Marc Coetzer: What minister Faith Muthambi in all her wisdom fails to comprehend in her response, is that yes, certainly there should be considered “tools of the trade” as she mentions, HOWEVER, when those “tools” greedily extend into the realms of overt luxury especially when the Minister of Finance in an effort to reign in these ‘vultures’ feeding on the Treasury and my tax paying contributions when the country and its people are collapsing under the financial strains of slow economic growth, loss in jobs, increased inflation, a depleted currency and more, these ministers have totally ignored this ruling and turned a blind eye to those that have put them there as public servants.

Minister Faith Muthambi and others guilty of floundering the Finance Ministers recommendations, acquire a “tool of the trade”, but certainly, stay WITHIN the guidelines proposed, set an example and show people like me, a simple South African “joe public”, that you too can reign your extravagant habits in and downgrade to a MORE than ample vehicle of comfort and transport as opposed to flashy Mercs, BM’s and Porche’s, some of which extend to almost 200% above the recommended ceiling, for goodness sakes. Set the example, do the responsible and take your vehicle back and purchase one that falls within the limit. I challenge you. 

Glenda Warmback: They should all be driving middle of the road vehicles and setting an example for the rest of the country.  Blue light brigades should be banned as who looks at the vehicle next to them and thinks “perhaps he is a minister, lets shoot them”.  It is just a case of “Look at me”.

Petrus Mvula: I think this must be debated in Parliament. These guys go on spending millions of money on luxury cars while people still suffer drastically. The millions was supposed to be used to upgrade informal settlements, build roads, electricity, as well as clean water and sanitation.

Fuad Williams: If the DA can set an example of cutting costs on vehicles, what's wrong doing it a cross the provinces? Change the policies to save money.

Goodman Gcabs: They must drive Toyota Corrola's or Tata Xerox 4x4s. If its BMW X5, X6 or an Audi Q7 it must come from their own pockets. Their package is above most CEOs of profit making organisations not serving the people, but making profit from operation.

Stephen: To answer the question should ministers be spending vast amounts on vehicles? Of course. I think they deserve it, given the way they govern, hard working citizens always putting the country's interest before theirs, helping the poor and needy. They therefore need to govern in style, bless their souls! With the lawlessness in this country prevailing, the freedom of the taxi's on the roads, no visible traffic police, citizens on their cell phones whilst driving, the condition of our roads, these ministers require safe, big,fast luxurious cars in order to be on time for their next lunch. Shame they also need to eat. So yes, tax payers need to look after the cream of the populations crop with the best... Who else is going to "drive" South Africa into the ground should anyone of them get killed driving head on into a taxi filled with 65 people from Nkandla? I will mourn for weeks on end.

Christopher Graham: I am more outraged to hear that South African ministers get paid more than Russian President Vladimir Putin, and almost as much as British MP Theresa May! Where is the world heading, when we pay incompetent people more than leaders of some of the most powerful nations.

The cars they drive should not be the equivalent of 70% of their salaries, but even before addressing that they should not be on such high salaries when our country struggles with growth. Last year Putin and his minsters took a 10% pay cut, while our ministers buy Porsche and other luxury vehicles. It's sickening to see people with a lot less responsibility than Putin and May suck our country dry with no care or accountability.

Theresa Burdett: The ministers can do with 1600 vehicles. The ones they purchase are not fit for country roads anyway.
If they want a more expensive one they must cough up themselves.

Dianne Cooper: It's a great pity and shameful when a "democratic" government only helps those at the top and not the voters who put them in their privileged positions! Hundreds of houses could have been built with this money.

Khaniexoliswa Futshane: They are spending money on luxury cars while we struggle to put food on the table. Jesus will punish all these ministers and everyone who's misusing funds.

James Livingstone: The author states that the off road pedigree many of the vehicles is questionable. Or did you miss that in haste to rebuke someone, as many ANC people do. The author also states that the purchases are in line with the handbook, he NEVER states a crime has been commuted, I would like to think that your angry response is indicative of a guilty conscience, but we all know this is as unlikely as snow in the sahara desert.

Raymond Abrahamse: Minister, try as you may with all your explainations but, you can get less expensive vehicles that offer the same service.

Aviva: Dear Minister, I am a working class "white" Jewish woman in a very sad country.
My husband is jobless and we live on a measly amount every month,  much like many in this lost society. 
Why can you not drive an ordinary good car?  Many people do. I'm not saying drive a broken car but at least drive an affordable one. 
There are hundreds of unemployed in South Africa and the tax payers foot the bill for your luxury cars. 
Also please remember the struggle is over. We are supposed to be a free nation. 
Rather, instead of wasting billions of tax payers money on luxury cars that most would never dream of having, spend some of that on schools or upgrading the much needed healthcare facilities. How much of our money is spent on lavish parties,  expensive brandies and wines? 
Please Minister, live just one day in the real South Africa amongst the real people. I wonder if you would last just that one day! 

Ron Wale: I need a Lambourghini as my "tool of the trade" - and the government can pay for it!

Derek Bunch: This is an absolute abuse of public funds. They can do their job just the same with a "Toyota, or a Volkswagen" and use the balance to provide housing that they have been promising for the last 24 years.

Ian Jarvis: The minister misses the point, the criticism is not on vehicle purchases per se , rather the grotesque amounts spent when we have  virtually no economic growth, millions unemployed and too many families still living in filth and squalor. Perhaps the populous might be more impressed if ministerial staff arrived in something more down to earth than a Porsche!

Below is a breakdown of vehicles: Data published by the DA


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