Newsroom/Press Releases/

911 Emergency: DA couriers Ministerial Handbook blueprint to Ministers Padayachie and Chabane

Geordin Hill Lewis, Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration
31 January 2012

911 days have passed since President Jacob Zuma appointed a task team to review the Ministerial Handbook.

Two and a half years later, the government’s review of the Handbook, which provides guidelines for privileges afforded to Ministers, seems to have come to a complete standstill.

As a result, the existing Handbook continues to be viewed as a blank cheque by Ministers using public money to fund their platinum lifestyles.

In May 2010, the Western Cape Provincial Government launched a “no frills” Ministerial Handbook for the provincial executive.

Minister Collins Chabane, the head of the task team, and Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie seem to need as much help as they can get in overhauling the Handbook.

Therefore, I will today be couriering a copy of the Western Cape’s Handbook to the two ministers. Hopefully, by ensuring that a blueprint for the new Handbook actually lands on their desks, some real progress will finally be made.

Key differences between the existing national Ministerial Handbook and the Handbook adopted in the Western Cape include:

The Western Cape restricts provincial cabinet members from holding business interests in entities conducting business with the state. The National Ministerial Handbook does not include such a rule.
Ministers in the Western Cape are allowed to choose official vehicles with a total purchase price of not more than 40% of their annual remuneration. The national guideline is 70%. Western Cape ministers are also given the liberty of choosing appropriate vehicles of a lesser value in the interest of spending efficiency (a reference which is excluded from the national guideline).
The Western Cape Handbook restricts members of the executive to the use of economy class for domestic flights whilst the national guidelines allow for business class travel on domestic airlines.
The Western Cape Handbook prevents members of the executive from obtaining departmentally sponsored credit cards in their own names. Such credit cards are permitted under the national rules.
The Western Cape has much stricter guidelines on the spending related to security measures at private residences.

President Zuma set up the task team to review the Ministerial Handbook in July 2009 following a public outcry over a luxury car shopping spree by national ministers.

The establishment of the task team was obviously more about abating public criticism than a sincere commitment to reigning in reckless spending by the executive.

We hope that today’s delivery will finally spur this government into action.