24 January 2011
Government rejects the Mail&Guardian's attempted use of poor journalism to hold Government to account over the cost of this week's Cabinet Lekgotla in Limpopo province.
Government confirms that it spent R2,5 million on the five-day meeting where Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers and senior public servants led by the President Jacob Zuma participated in deliberations that set the national agenda for the year.
So-called unnamed senior officials supposedly suggested to the Mail & Guardian that the cost of the meeting at the Legend Golf Safari Resort was around R15million.
Between the alleged sources and the Mail & Guardian, South Africans have been terribly misled - something for which the newspaper ought to apologise as publicly as it plastered a lie on its front page.
There can be no excuse for a journalistic failure which will no doubt be defended as an exercise in serving the public interest and holding Government to account.
Entrusted with an overwhelming mandate to govern, this Administration understands the demands of the public interest better than most - and we are clearly committed to clean administration and prudent expenditure.
Government therefore rejects the dressing up of ignorant speculation as a service to our democracy. Misleading the public is in fact a disservice to our democracy.
In this case, the facts clearly show up a poor attempt to undermine Government's reputation and public trust in the national leadership. Government is vigilant about expenses. However, it is justifiable to expect that the nation's leadership should be able to meet in conditions of privacy, security and comfort that enable productivity. This is a formula and practice applied in the public and private sectors throughout the world.
And to keep things in perspective, the per capita cost to citizens for the Lekgotla was 0.05 cents.
Government's accountability in this regard should be considered alongside the substance of Cabinet's deliberations, and the National Executive's commitment to realising the objectives and targets this Administration has set not just for itself, but for the country as a whole.
We are confident that the outcomes of the Lekgotla reflect the will of the people and will inspire all South Africans when President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address on the 10th February.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)