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Manyi slates housing report

Aug 23 2011 17:46 Sapa

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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 Cabinet.

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 management process.

"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 requirements."

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 Africa."

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. 

jimmy manyi  |  ministers  |  government spending
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