Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Ministers’ Comfort During Blackouts
Over a period of four years, taxpayers have paid more than R7 million to ensure uninterrupted power at the homes of ministers and deputy ministers during rolling blackouts. The public has also covered other expenses, including:
- R18.3 million for Cabinet members’ power consumption since June 2019
- R7.5 million for water use in Cape Town
- R22 million in total for Pretoria’s power and water bills
- R3.4 million for security upgrades at ministerial houses
Investigating the Ministerial Handbook
These expenses have come to light as part of a wider investigation into the misuse of the Ministerial Handbook by DA MP Leon Schreiber. He reveals that the total bill for free water, power, and security upgrades at nearly 100 ministerial homes is close to R60 million.
Schreiber highlights the disparity, stating, “While South Africans have had to bear the irreversible consequences of load shedding, these ministers are protected from years of mismanagement and corruption at the power supplier.”
DA Wants Transparency on Ministers’ Benefits
The DA aims to raise awareness among South Africans about the true cost of the benefits enjoyed by ministers, especially since there is no law that covers this issue. Schreiber explains that the party has informed the Public Protector about the absence of legal provisions for the benefits described in the Ministerial Handbook.
The DA is also investigating other potential abuses allowed by the manual to prevent further waste of taxpayers’ money.
Ministers’ Benefits Under Review
Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, acknowledges the concerns about the continuous misrepresentation of the manual and Cabinet members’ benefits. She emphasizes that ministers do experience load shedding, but only at their Cape homes.
Ntshavheni defends the need for state-provided housing for Cabinet members, citing their dual work locations in Cape Town and Pretoria. She explains that the Groote Schuur and Bryntirion estates were purchased for ministerial housing before 1994 and continue to be used for this purpose.
Since Bryntirion Estate is part of the Union Buildings and Mahlamba Ndlopfu, which are national key points, it is not subjected to load shedding.
Ntshavheni states that the benefits are continuously reviewed for good governance in terms of cost-cutting, effectiveness, and efficiency.
Support Staff Entitlements Reduced
Additionally, Ntshavheni notes that MPs are entitled to support staff, but the number of posts has been reduced over time. Ministers can now appoint seven members of staff, down from the previous 13.
According to Ntshavheni, these advantages are aligned with ministers’ dignity, knowledge, and experience in managing their departments.