Business class flights and 5-star hotels – the lifestyles of South Africa’s millionaire ministers

 ·12 Dec 2019

After carefully studying the revised ministerial handbook, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is ‘disgusted’ that the much-hyped new version of the handbook has, in fact, introduced minimal changes.

The Department of Services and Administration (DPSA) launched a new ministerial handbook for members of the executive on Monday (9 December), cutting some of the major perks offered to government ministers.

These perks are over and above the salaries ministers receive each year – which will total R137 million for 2018/19.

South Africa’s Cabinet is made up of 64 members – including president Ramaphosa, deputy president David Mabuza, 28 ministers and 34 deputies.

Ministers will earn R2,401,633 while Mabuza is set to earn R2,825,470. Deputy ministers are scheduled to receive R1,977,795 each in the 2018/19 financial year.

By comparison, a normal member of the National Assembly (MP) will earn R1,106,940, while the leader of a minority party will earn R1,309,563.

However, despite the claims of major cuts to minister perks, the DA said that the only positive changes to the handbook worth mentioning is that the state will no longer pay for security upgrades at minsters’ private homes and introducing the cap of R700,000 on vehicles.

Aside from these relatively minor changes, ministers still enjoy a pretty free ride on taxpayer funds.

Below it outlined some of the issues with the new handbook.

Staff members 

During the launch of the handbook last week, Public Service and Administration minister Senzo Mchunu claimed that the total number of staff members serving each minister was reduced from 13 to 7.

“This is simply not true,” the DA said. “Instead, Ramaphosa and Mchunu conspired to merely move 6 out of the original 13 staff members out of a minister’s private office to new offices called administration services and cabinet and parliamentary services.

“The end result is that there was absolutely no change, with taxpayers still forking out millions of rands for each minister to be served by 13 staff members, each deputy minister by 9, each premier by 12, and each MEC by 12.”

The DA said that this is exactly the same as it was in previous versions of the handbook.

Business-class trips 

The DA said that ministers will effectively continue to fly business class on all international trips.

“While Mchunu said that all international trips shorter than two hours would be on economy class, the reality is that ministerial jaunts to shopping meccas like Dubai, New York and London are all on flights longer than two hours,” the DA said.

“In effect, this means that all ministers will still be flying business class internationally at taxpayer expense.”

It added that the new ministerial handbook still allows them to ‘make use of hotels which suit the status of (ministers)…5 star graded hotel or equivalent of a South African 5 star graded hotel’.

Retired ministers will also continue to receive 48 business class flights per year while deputy ministers will receive 36 business class tickets per year.

Read: Massive cuts to minister perks in South Africa – including no cars over R700,000

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