DA takes action to completely scrap Ministerial Handbook

Issued by Dr Leon Schreiber MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration
11 Oct 2022 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

After the DA last week exposed the latest abuse contained in the Ministerial Handbook, whereby ministers and deputy ministers are exempted from paying for water and electricity at their residences, the DA can today announce that we are filing a complaint with the Public Protector calling for the abolition of the Handbook in its entirety.

The DA has spent years exposing and fighting back against the abuse of taxpayer money contained in the Ministerial Handbook, which provides these benefits to ministers who are already paid R2.4 million per year.

But as the public outcry following the DA’s latest revelations confirms, President Cyril Ramaphosa has now gone a step too far.

Forcing South Africans to pay the private electricity and water bills for the very same ministers who have robbed citizens of access to these critical services is a slap in the face that the people will not accept.

However, in a statement released late last night, Ramaphosa’s government made it clear that they have no intention of listening to the public or the DA by scrapping these provisions. Since Ramaphosa refuses to do anything about this waste of public resources, the DA will now do it for him.

Not only are we challenging this latest set of handouts to ANC cadres, but our complaint to the Public Protector challenges the legality of the Ministerial Handbook in its entirety.

Our legal research suggests that there is no law that makes provision for this Handbook to even exist.

While the Handbook – formally entitled the “Guide for Members of the Executive” – notes that “Members are required at all times to ensure compliance with the Executive Ethics Code,” there is no provision in the Code or in any other law allowing for the existence of a Handbook that gives the President dictatorial powers to force taxpayers to pay for the perks of Cabinet members.

The Handbook therefore appears to exist ultra vires – outside of the Constitution and the law.

It is for this reason that the President was able to secretly amend the Handbook in April to allow these new perks without even bothering to inform Parliament.

In fact, because there is no law at all governing the existence of the Handbook, Parliament has no authority to exercise oversight or approve the contents of the Handbook. The President is completely unaccountable for the way in which he forces taxpayers to fund the ANC gravy train.

That the President has dictatorial powers in this area violates sections 2 (c) and (d) of the Executive Ethics Code, which stipulate that members of Cabinet, including the President, must act “in the best interest of good governance” taking into account “the promotion of an open, democratic and accountable government.” It is also a violation of section 3 of the Code, because the practice of the President dishing out patronage to his own Cabinet colleagues constitutes a conflict of interest.

Instead of a Handbook that gives Ramaphosa unfettered powers to abuse taxpayers, the DA believes that Parliament should be the one to decide on cases where certain benefits, such as security measures or transport for official duties, may be warranted.

Should the Public Protector confirm that the Ministerial Handbook is indeed unlawful in its entirety, it would mean that Ramaphosa and all of his ANC predecessors have for decades illegally taken hundreds of millions of Rands from taxpayers in order to fund the luxury lifestyles of multi-millionaire cadres.

As the champion of good governance and anti-corruption in South Africa, the DA is determined to put an end to these abuses by scrapping the Ministerial Handbook in its entirety.