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19 Oct 2009 06:59
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has racked up another five-star hotel bill, this time worth over R570 000 in Durban, the Sunday Independent reported.
Between December 19 and April 25, Mthethwa was intermittently booked into the luxurious Hilton Hotel along with members of his VIP Protection Unit at a cost of R578 499.
His spokesperson Zweli Mnisi did not comment on the figure, saying only that Mthethwa was in KwaZulu-Natal around December on “official duties”, taking part in roadshows aimed at reducing festive season crime. His April stay was due to the national elections.
“The province was identified as a potential hot spot.
All these were official programmes aimed at engaging local stakeholders in the fight against crime, including consultation with local authorities as part of preparation for the elections,” he said in a statement.
According to the Sunday Independent‘s copy of the bill, Mthethwa spent Christmas and New Year at the hotel.
On the night before Valentine’s Day, Mthethwa was booked into the same hotel, this time with four guards, at a cost of R38 516. From April 19 to 25, he stayed at the hotel with two guards. The
bill amounted to R89 000.
The Hilton bill was double what taxpayers coughed up for Mthethwa’s 17-day stay in Cape Town’s five-star Table Bay Hotel earlier this year. Mthethwa stayed at the hotel at a cost of R235 000 while his home was being renovated after flood damage.
Mnisi said the minister claimed at the time he was unaware of the high prices charged by the Cape Town hotel.
Opposition political parties reacted with anger to Mthethwa’s latest “extravagance”.
The Congress of the People said Mthethwa either was campaigning for the ANC or simply went home and billed the government.
“This gives lie to his explanation that he did not know that the Table Bay Hotel was expensive and appeared to cement a view that he has a cavalier attitude towards taxpayers’ money,” Cope first deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa was quoted as saying.
The Democratic Alliance said the police department’s long list of luxury indulgences did not only contradict President Jacob Zuma’s calls for austerity and prudence, but flew in the face of common sense and commitment to put the public before personal gratification.
“If one adds up the hotel extravagance to the cars bought by Mthethwa and his deputy, Fikile Mbalula, it goes up to over R3,7-million of public money being spent on person opulence,” shadow minister of police Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement.
She asked how Mthethwa would justify his behaviour while police officers who often put their lives at risk earned next to nothing each month.
The Independent Democrats expressed its “disgust”.
“In light of the fact that this is the second such revelation about Mthethwa in less than two weeks, words cannot describe how disgusted the ID is,” the party’s spokesperson for police Haniff Hoosen said in a statement.
The problem was a that ministers were determining their own benefits, he said.
“The Cabinet’s powers to approve the handbook must be taken away. Perks, privileges and allowances for ministers should be determined by a similar process to the Moseneke Commission, which was tasked with examining remuneration for public office bearers.” - Sapa
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