Government ministers owe millions of rands in rent on homes paid for by South African taxpayers: report

A number of current and former cabinet ministers together owe millions of rands in rent on homes that have been subsidised by taxpayers, the Sunday Times reports.

Public works minister Patricia de Lille has sent letters to high-profile politicians in an effort to recover more than R8 million in rental arrears.

Under the current ministerial handbook, cabinet ministers are allowed two state houses – one in Pretoria and one in Cape Town.

They are allowed to stay rent free in one of these homes, but must pay 1% of their salary to stay in the other.

Some of the ministers and other top-ranking officials who reportedly owe money include:

  • Former Environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane;
  • Transport minister Fikile Mbalula;
  • Former minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini;
  • Former Home Affairs and Finance minister Malusi Gigaba;
  • Deputy minister of Higher education Buti Manamela;
  • Deputy minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe.

Lifestyle audits 

In November 2020, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that discussions on a lifestyle audit framework are ongoing and are in the process of being finalised.

Ramaphosa pledged to conduct lifestyle audits of all ANC leaders and public representatives as part of a clampdown on corruption.

South Africa’s government ministers have long been criticised by opposition parties for the governmental benefits they received under the ministerial handbook – including free flights, vehicles and other perks.

These perks have been revised under Ramaphosa’s presidency with a new ministerial handbook published in June 2019.

Some of the benefits included in the 2019 handbook include:

  • The cost of vehicles – including any security upgrades – will be determined by the minister of finance;
  • In the event that an official vehicle is not procured for a member, they may be reimbursed for using their own private vehicle;
  • Members and their spouses (or an adult family member accompanying the Member in an official capacity) are entitled to travel for official purposes at the expense of the relevant department;
  • This trip must be business class travel using the cheapest of three  quotations for the most cost-effective and convenient route;
  • Rentals for phones (as well as the costs of official calls), the installation and maintenance of fax, internet/Wi-Fi and DStv facilities will be paid for by the department;
  • Members may occupy a state-owned residence in the seat of office free of charge;
  • The state will contribute up to R250,000 in security upgrades, with this amount to be revised annually.

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Government ministers owe millions of rands in rent on homes paid for by South African taxpayers: report