Cape Town - The latest attempt to focus attention on
ministerial housing is a "barefaced move" to embarrass the executive,
government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Tuesday.
He was responding to media reports that taxpayers had to
fork out R183m for 34 new VIP homes since President Jacob Zuma extended his
The government had indicated in 2009 that it planned to buy
and upgrade housing for ministers, members of Parliament and top government
officials, Manyi said in a statement.
At the time R150m had been earmarked as planned spending on
ministerial housing, in line with the government's budgetary and supply chain
"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
The increase in spending on ministerial housing was
"dictated by the reconfiguration of 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, Manyi said.
The work and travel of ministers and deputy ministers
required housing in Cape Town and Pretoria. The government paid for the
official residence in one of the two cities.
"It must be reiterated that ministerial houses do not
belong to the ministers and deputy ministers," he said.
"They are only available to them during their tenure
and remain assets of the state and therefore of the people of South
Investment into these properties would also be for the use
of future ministers and deputy ministers. Their security arrangements were in
line with world practice.
"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 existing 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 disingenuous," Manyi said.