23 August 2011
The latest attempt to focus attention on the ministerial housing is a barefaced move to embarrass Government and the Executive.
The Government had indicated in 2009 that it had planned to buy and upgrade housing for Ministers, Members of Parliament and top government officials.
At the time an amount of R150-million had been earmarked as planned expenditure on ministerial housing in line with Government’s budgetary and supply chain management process.
Attempts to now compare the trend in austerity measures around the world today are mischievous; at the time spending allocated to ministerial housing had been developed in line with available resources and requirements.
The increase in spending on ministerial housing was dictated by the reconfiguration the National Executive. Six new cabinet positions were created in May 2009 and 17 new deputy ministers appointed in October 2010 to ensure maximum performance of the Executive.
The work and travel of Ministers and Deputy Ministers necessitate housing in both Cape Town and Pretoria to assist them in carrying out their duties. The official residence in one of the two cities is paid for by Government.
It must be reiterated that ministerial houses do not belong to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. They are only available to them during their tenure and remain assets of the State, and therefore of the people of South Africa. Investment made into these properties will also be for the use of future Minister and Deputy Ministers.
The security arrangements that apply to the housing of Ministers and Deputy Ministers are in line with world practice. No country leaves members of its Executive Authority unprotected.
There is nothing wrong in Ministers and Deputy Ministers having two residences (one paid for by the State and another by themselves) as currently regulated by the exisiting Ministerial Handbook.
There is currently a review of the Ministerial Handbook, which regulates benefits and privileges of members of the Executive Authority, and attempts to project the Executive as insensitive are at best opportunistic and at worst disingenous.
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Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)