Embattled social development minister Bathabile Dlamini has procured a R1.3-million German sedan for her official use in Pretoria while her deputy has gone for a R1.1-million SUV.
The R2.4-million splurge on the luxury vehicles for Dlamini and her deputy minister‚ Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu‚ is at odds with the National Treasury’s austerity measures introduced by axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan to curb wasteful and unnecessary spending of public funds in an environment where government revenue streams are dwindling.
The Treasury capped the procurement price for official vehicles at R650 000 in 2014 but that was later revised to R750 000.
In a written reply to a question by DA MP Bridget Masango‚ the controversial social development minister confirmed that her department bought her a BMW 740i in October 2016.
Dlamini further stated that three months earlier‚ in July 2016‚ a premium luxury Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV was procured for Bogopane-Zulu.
She told parliament in the written reply that purchasing the vehicles was “unavoidable” because cars they had purchased in 2009 had aged and had travelled more than 120 000km.
“The official Pretoria-based vehicles allocated to the Minister and the Deputy Minister in 2009 have far exceeded the prescribed 120 000 km and the five year period.
“The Minister’s vehicle reached 161 523km and the Deputy Minister’s vehicle 143 652km. As such the purchase of new official vehicles became unavoidable and needed replacement due to high maintenance costs and security reasons‚” Dlamini said in her written reply.
The minister said procurement was guided by prescripts and regulations of the National Treasury and stipulations of the Ministerial Handbook.
The ministerial handbook says the purchase price of cars for a minister should not exceed 70% of their annual remuneration packages but these may be amended periodically by recommendations of the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.
Ministers currently earn an annual salary of R2.3-million.
Dlamini also said it should be noted that she had delayed the purchase of another vehicle for her Cape Town office “in compliance” with the Treasury’s cost cutting measures.
“Members at national level may be provided with one vehicle for use in Cape Town and one vehicle for use in Pretoria‚” she said.
“One official vehicle in Cape Town has also far exceeded the prescribed 120 000km [151 062km for the Minister] and the five-year period. In compliance with the National Treasury’s cost containment measures‚ the Department has delayed the purchase of official vehicles for Cape Town.
“Although the money for the purchase of the new official vehicles for the Deputy Minister and Minister was budgeted for in the 2014/15 financial year‚ the following official vehicles were only purchased in the 2016/17 financial year‚” she said.