The Congress of the People (Cope) has slammed Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s “caviar and silk lifestyle” after the Mail & Guardian revealed on Friday that Nyanda has been living it up at five-star hotels in Cape Town since May last year.
Cope MP Juli Kilian added her voice to that of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday who criticised Nyanda for spending thousands of rands on hotel stays at the luxury Mount Nelson and Twelve Apostles hotels.
“It is insensitive to the plight of the poor and the tax burden of the middle class to scandalously waste public money on luxurious hotels. South Africans are battling to survive the effects of the economic meltdown. The minister cannot sustain a caviar and silk lifestyle at the cost of hard-working South Africans, who are battling to honour their financial commitments,” said Kilian.
Cope will further probe the matter “until all facts have emerged”.
Sasco earlier demanded of Nyanda to pay back the money spent on hotel accommodation while he waited for furniture to be delivered to his official residence.
“We are enraged and in fact we are disgusted as the South African Students Congress by this opulence so brazenly enjoyed by comrade Nyanda at the expense of the population,” Sasco said in a statement. “Thousands of students voted for the ANC out of the hope that it would deliver a better life for all and not a better life for its ministers. The ANC must reign in on comrade Nyanda otherwise he will cost us badly as the movement in the coming local government elections.”
Sasco called on government to deduct the hotel costs from Nyanda’s salary “as punishment”.
DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Friday her party will submit parliamentary questions to determine at what cost Nyanda has been staying at the luxury hotels.
Nyanda’s spokesperson confirmed to the M&G that he was staying at the hotels, but declined to confirm the total amount spent so far on luxury accommodation.
“Since it is unclear exactly how much has been spent on luxury hotels for the minister since he assumed office in May last year, we will be asking parliamentary questions to establish this,” said Mazibuko.
She added: “Minister Nyanda, having acquired the most expensive ministerial car to date at the expense of the struggling South African taxpayer, is no stranger to this controversy. The South African public cannot be expected to continue footing the bill for the ANC government’s taste for big spending — particularly while millions of our people continue to live in abject poverty.”
Kilian quipped that the ANC’s slogan should be amended to read: “Working together we can get more”.