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Politicians are taking us for a ride

In light of the recent furor over Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda spending a reported R2.3 Million on luxury rides for himself, I've received an interesting email which outlines Cape Town Premier Helen Zille's response to the rampant spending.

If you're not up to speed on the Communications Minister's splurge, here's an excerpt from an article on MyBroadband:

New Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda has treated himself to a pair of German luxury cars, one to use in Pretoria and the other in Cape Town.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, posed by the Democratic Alliance, he said the new vehicles - both 2009 BMW 750i models - cost R1 135 500 each.

And here's an excerpt from News 24 about why the purchase is ok:
"The political office-bearer contract that resides with the department of transport prescribes that a minister is entitled to acquire a vehicle for official use that is worth not more than 70% of his or her annual salary package," spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said in a statement.
Here's what Zille's response the situation is (as featured in the Daily Dispatch)

Every right minded taxpayer would have been envious of their Western Cape counterparts if they had read Rapport’s article over the weekend about the steps that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has taken to cut down unnecessary spending by politicians in that province.

“A Strict Financial Diet” is how Rapport described Zille’s move, which includes bringing to an end the use of expensive official vehicles (the Premier will now be carted around in a Toyota), a reduction in glossy advertisements to promote ministerial departments, and having biscuits and tea instead of costly meals at five-star hotels when Western Cape MECs make their budget announcements.

Official budget announcements are now being held in the MECs’ conference rooms. Zille’s provincial Cabinet members also being driven around in the government garage’s fleet of second-hand vehicles – which had been used by the previous ANC provincial government.
Rapport reported that the Mercedes C230 that Western Cape Health MEC Theuns Botha uses already has 230 000km on its clock.

It was said that Zille’s financial diet has already resulted in a savings of R3million in one week for the province.

Zille said according to calculations each provincial department would be saving at least R250 000 by cutting down on lavish entertainment – a total saving of R2.5m.

And by opting for a less glamorous opening of the Western Province parliament Zille has already put at least R500 000 back in the coffers of the province’s taxpayers. She has cut her own budget for meals from R270 000 to R26 000. (This is not a typo!)

Anyone concerned about the economy, the ever increasing unemployment figures and rising poverty should compare Zille’s budget cuts with what’s been happening in other provinces. They will find, for instance, Gauteng provincial minister have used their new found powers to buy official vehicles at about R960 000 each.

Even ANC supporters and the ruling party’s alliance partners in the trade union movements – and Communist Party too – should take umbrage about this kind of spending.
This has nothing to do with party ideology. The other provincial leaders should know that the electorate will compare them to Zille.

Zille’s budget cuts should be an example to political leaders, who purport to have compassion for the less privileged. During their respective election campaigns all political parties pledged to alleviate poverty. If all provinces followed Zille’s example and cut down extravagant spending and began walking the talk, the greater the chance of realising these promises.


What's your take on the issue?

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