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The DA claimed justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola's department was the biggest spender. File photo: FREDDY MAVUNDA
The DA claimed justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola's department was the biggest spender. File photo: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The DA has again slammed cabinet ministers for allegedly splurging hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

This week the party issued a statement accusing 18 ANC ministers, deputy ministers and their departments of allegedly spending R1.4bn on catering, entertainment and accommodation since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government took office on May 19 2019.

According to DA MP Leon Schreiber, the information was obtained through parliamentary questions.

Schreiber said over the past three years, which citizens mostly spent under lockdown, the ANC national government allegedly spent at least R1.2bn on accommodation, R157m on catering and R12m on entertainment for ministers, deputy ministers and others employed by national government departments.

“While millions of South Africans go to bed hungry, ANC cadres kept partying on taxpayer money all throughout lockdown,” he said.

This is how much, according to the DA, departments allegedly spent on catering, entertainment and accommodation combined:

The biggest spenders 

  • Department of justice & correctional services — R293m;
  • Departments of human settlements and water & sanitation — R252m;
  • Department of basic education — R149m;
  • Department of home affairs — R149m;
  • Department of forestry, fisheries & the environment — R137m, and;
  • Department of international relations & co-operation — R127m.

What other departments have allegedly spent

  • Department of higher education, science & innovationR74m;
  • Department of health — R67m;
  • Department of mineral resources & energy — R55m;
  • Department of transport — R34m;
  • Department of public service & administration — R26m;
  • Department of public works & infrastructure — R21m;
  • Department of small business — R12m;
  • Department of finance — R11m;
  • Department of public enterprises — R5m;
  • Department of women, youth & people with disabilities — R1m;
  • Department of trade, industry & competition — R87,000, and;
  • Department of sports, arts & culture — refused to answer
While millions of South Africans go to bed hungry, ANC cadres kept partying on taxpayer money all throughout lockdown.
DA MP Leon Schreiber

Department of justice & correctional services hits back 

The department hit back at the DA, saying it was working and not partying with taxpayer money. 

Spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said the DA was trying to create a political frenzy.

“This is conveniently done to ascribe the expenditure incurred in the course of performing functions as a spending spree. This, in turn, is used as a propaganda tool to portray the government of the day in a manner which suits a particular political agenda,” Phiri

He said in the case of the justice department, the expenditure incurred covers magistrates’ costs. 

“Financial prescripts relating to catering expenditure define it as expenditure incurred on individuals employed or contracted to the department or individuals outside the employ of the department in connection with the activities of a department, or division within a department, that directly relates to the achievement of its objectives,” said Phiri.

“Entertainment expenditure is expenditure incurred by members of the senior management service as well as ministers, deputy ministers and their office bearers in performance of their duties. 

“Accommodation expenditure relates to reasonable actual accommodation costs where an employee must take an official journey. In other words, all these types of expenditure relate to official duties in line with departmental activities and objectives.”

He said the department went to “great lengths” to ensure courts remained open during the Covid-19 lockdown and that the expenditure for accommodation for officials and magistrates who travel for work-related purposes was justifiable.

“How does the DA think this would have been possible without incurring costs? To portray this as ‘partying’ is politically opportunistic. By the same token, had the department underspent on its budget, it would surely be accused by the DA of not performing its functions,” he said. 

Minister of justice and correctional services Ronald Lamola said while his department welcomes attempts to conduct parliamentary oversight over the executive, information should not be used to “manipulate” the public.

“Such information must be used to enlighten citizens so that information must be correct and put into context,” said Lamola.

“This is why we have the office of the auditor-general and bodies such as the select committee on public accounts who scrutinise departmental expenditure. Where such expenditure cannot be explained or is found to be fruitless and wasteful, the necessary consequence management and disciplinary processes are followed.”

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