DA’s Dr Leon Schreiber challenges Minister Patricia de Lille to a public debate after she pens open letter defending the Ministerial Handbook

Issued by Dr Leon Schreiber MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration
28 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, has penned an open letter to the DA’s Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration, Dr Leon Schreiber. I can confirm that the letter was delivered to the DA digitally, presumably because the ANC government that De Lille is part of has destroyed the Post Office.

Nonetheless, I hereby acknowledge receipt of the Minister’s letter. Given the defense of ministerial perks contained in her letter, I hereby wish to respond by inviting Minister De Lille to publicly debate me over the ethics, morality and legality of the Ministerial Handbook. I am prepared to debate her on any day, at any venue, for any length of time and on any platform of her choosing.

If you genuinely believe the Ministerial Handbook is defensible, just name the time and place, Minister.

In her letter, De Lille defends the fact that the Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have run our country into the ground are currently living like rockstars in 97 mansions in Cape Town and Pretoria. The combined value of these 97 properties is nearly R1 billion, which means that the average value of the two homes used by each Cabinet cadre is R20 million. This is in addition to the four free luxury vehicles, VIP protection, free water and electricity, and other expensive perks they receive. De Lille’s department also recently spent R2.6 million to buy generators for these ministerial mansions to shield the ANC elite from the load-shedding crisis they created.

While it is accepted global practice for top government leaders such as the President, Deputy President and Premiers to occupy official residences – which are often located in heritage buildings or estates open to the public – De Lille is clearly unable to justify why each and every ANC Minister and Deputy Minister who presided over the collapse of every public service and government department in this country should continue to live like rockstars. This is especially true after former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter revealed that it is these very same Ministers who are sabotaging our country’s electricity supply for their own corrupt gains.

Instead, De Lille’s primary defense is that “this was a practice we inherited…since before 1994.” If one wants to see just how profoundly a spot at the feeding trough can erode one’s sense of basic ethics, just witness how Patricia de Lille now uses the pre-1994 regime as her moral standard. It is breathtaking to witness how, thirty years into our constitutional democracy, a Minister essentially says that “because the Apartheid government did it, we can also do it.”

De Lille’s secondary, and equally weak, defense, is that we should not question whether it is appropriate for people who have run our country into the ground to live like rockstars at taxpayer expense, because the Ministerial Handbook entitles them to live like this. There is however a serious problem with this cop-out: there is no law that provides for the existence of the Ministerial Handbook in the first place. Perks doled out by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister De Lille are, in effect, illegal.

To combat this illegal abuse of taxpayers by Ramaphosa’s government, the DA has already laid a complaint with the Public Protector. We have also introduced legislation to Parliament that will make the Ministerial Handbook subject to full parliamentary oversight and accountability. At the moment, the Handbook is nothing but a blank cheque for the ANC and its allies like De Lille to abuse taxpayers.

I look forward to the opportunity to publicly debate De Lille. It will provide an opportunity for the people of South Africa to witness the full depravity of a regime that lives in opulence while it robs ordinary people of access to life-saving basic services like electricity and clean drinking water.