24 flashy cars worth R19 million ministers got while South Africa’s economy stumbled

South African ministers and deputy ministers splurged about R19 million on 24 luxury cars between 2019 and 2021, while the country’s unemployment surged and the economy stumbled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is according to information provided by various government departments in responses to Parliamentary questions from the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The taxpayer footed the bill for these vehicles via National Treasury.

DA MP Leon Schreiber berated the ministers for buying “flashy new wheels” while “poverty, hunger, and hardship exploded all around them”.

“While every other citizen feels this pain every day at the taxi rank, fuel pump and cash register, there is one elite class of South Africans who are exempt from the cost of living crisis facing our country: the very ANC cabinet that caused the poverty crisis in the first place,”  he said.

Several cars purchased over the last three years came close to the R800,000 limit to which the ministerial handbook entitles ministers and deputy ministers.

The cap was initially R700,000 but was later supposedly increased by R100,000 through a directive from National Treasury.

The limits were introduced following an outcry over an apparent free-for-all among government officials spending millions on cars for official duties.

In one instance, former human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo, who now serves as South Africa’s ambassador to the US, blew more than R1.56 million on an Audi S8 sports car.

Around the same time, her deputy bought a similar model for another R1.5 million.

Audi S8

While a spokesperson for the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC) has reiterated the adjusted R800,000 cap to The Sunday Times, Schreiber contends that the limit is still R700,000.

He is planning to lodge a complaint with the Public Protector over the issue once there is closure on the anticipated axing of Busisiwe Mkwhebane.

Rapport has also reported it was unable to find any directive or get confirmation from National Treasury that the limit had indeed been increased.

Should the R700,000 limit still apply, 11 out of the 24 purchases will have been in contravention of the ministerial handbook.

Biggest spenders

Cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma should be in trouble either way, as she exceeded both caps.

Her Volvo XC60, which she bought a few days before South Africa entered hard lockdown in March 2020, cost R806,700 and was the most expensive.

It was followed by the BMW 5-series bought by DTIC deputy minister Fikile Majola, which cost R799,000.

The third-biggest purchases were by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Phumulo Masualle, each spending R783,910 on an Audi A6.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula bought his BMW 5-series for just shy of R750,000, while communications minister Khumbodzu Ntshavheni — then Minister of Small Business Development — spent R726,000 on her Audi Q5 40 TDI.

Police minister Bheki Cele refused to answer the DA’s question, arguing it would pose a threat to his safety.

Below are the cars that various ministers and deputy ministers disclosed they purchased using taxpayer money.

Volvo XC60

  • Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs — R806,700
  • Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane: Former Minister of Human Settlements — R700,000 (x2)

Audi A6

  • Pravin Gordhan: Minister of Public Enterprises  — R783,910
  • Phumulo Masualle: Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises — R783,910

Audi Q5

  • Joe Phaahla: Minster of Health — R756,000
  • Boitumelo Moloi: Employment and Labour — R748,000
  • Maggie Sotyu: Forestry and fisheries (former) — R747,000
  • Khumbodzu Ntshavheni: Communications and Digital Technologies — R726,469

BMW 5-series

  • Fikile Mbalula: Minister of Transport — R748,624
  • Fikile Majola: Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry — R799,000
  • Nomalungelo Gina: Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry — R743,000

Now read: Treasury bringing South Africa to standstill after BEE loss in court

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24 flashy cars worth R19 million ministers got while South Africa’s economy stumbled