/ 15 July 2010

DA: Zuma’s govt blows R1,5bn on luxuries

Da: Zuma's Govt Blows R1

Since taking office, President Jacob Zuma’s government has spent a total of R1,5-billion on luxury cars, five-star hotel accommodation, parties, tickets for sports events and “self-congratulatory” advertising, the DA said on Thursday.

“This kind of spending represents a gross misallocation of public funds,” Democratic Alliance spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko told a parliamentary media briefing.

The R1,5-billion was R500-million more than the figure reported by her party in April this year, she said.

According to the DA’s Wasteful Expenditure Monitor, released at the briefing, the national department to “waste” the most was public works.

“It spent approximately R99-million on upgrades to the residences of public officials when the Zuma administration came into office,” the document stated.

The DA said the most wasteful provincial government, “by quite a large margin”, was the African National Congress-run KwaZulu-Natal.

“It spent R120,5-million on a variety of items, including unnecessary rental space, luxury cars and artwork.”

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was responsible for the biggest expenditure on cars since April, her department having spent about R7-million on four Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The monitor says the total spent on new vehicles by Zuma’s government was now R65,8-million.

R300 000 party for Ramokgopa
The total spent on parties, conferences and similar events now totalled R209-million, including R300 000 spent on a party by the Tshwane Metro Council to celebrate executive mayor Gwen Ramokgopa’s state of the city address and a gala dinner at the Pretoria city hall.

The document also contained details of the millions spent on World Cup tickets by Cabinet members, municipalities and state-owned enterprises.

The biggest spender in this regard was the department of transport, which forked out R20-million for the event. Trade and industry spent R16,7-million, while Eskom spent R12-million on tickets.

The total spent on tickets to sporting events was R135,9-million.

The state has also spent R209-million on parties and conferences, and a further R241-million on “unnecessary property rentals, hotel stays and property renovations”.

This included R65-million for “upgrades to facilities servicing President Zuma’s private home at Nkandla”, which came in the form of a helicopter pad, clinic, visitors’ centre and parking lot, among others.

It also included the R515 000 spent by Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda on “prolonged stays” at luxury five-star establishments, including Cape Town’s Mount Nelson and Twelve Apostles hotels.

Asked if a portion of the total R1,5-billion spent by government could not be deemed “necessary” expenditure, Mazibuko conceded it could be, but said the scale of government’s wasteful spending was such that this “wouldn’t make much of a dent” in the total figure.

She said the fact the total had increased by R500 000 over the past three months was “incredibly depressing”, and it appeared that the ANC was ignoring Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s call last year to curb such spending.

According to the party, “almost all the items of wasteful expenditure tracked … have occurred during the Zuma administration’s term in office”. – Sapa