New Western Cape Ministerial Handbook: The "No Frills" Approach of Our Government
Statement by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille
Today, I am pleased to present the Western Cape ministerial handbook recently approved by the Provincial Cabinet.
Since coming into office in 2009, our administration has introduced a number of initiatives that underscore our commitment to clean and efficient government.
Last year, we passed the Business Interests of Employees Act to prevent all government employees and their families from doing business with the state. We have also strengthened our Forensic Investigation Unit to ensure that cases of corruption in provincial departments can be better detected, investigated and prosecuted.
The Western Cape ministerial handbook is our latest initiative.
There have been numerous media stories on excessive spending by National Ministers on lengthy stays at five-star hotels, purchasing expensive vehicles and throwing lavish parties. When questioned on spending taxpayers' money in this way, many of them refer to the current ministerial handbook produced by the National Department Public Service and Administration and say "the handbook says I can". In other words, the current ministerial handbook (which applies to all national ministers and provincial MECs) facilitates and legalises this form of power abuse.
That is why we have developed our own provincial ministerial handbook in line with the "no frills" ethos of this government. Western Cape Provincial MECs will be bound by these tighter rules and regulations. The table below indicates where the Western Cape ministerial handbook has reduced the scope for excessive spending, comparing it to what is stipulated in the national ministerial handbook:
|AREA OF EXPENDITURE||WESTERN CAPE MINISTERIAL HANDBOOK||NATIONAL MINISTERIAL HANDBOOK|
|1.||Disclosure of Gifts & Hospitality||Any gifts or hospitality received that exceeds R350 must be disclosed||Any gifts or hospitality received that exceeds R500 must be disclosed|
|2.||Restriction of ownership of interests in certain business entities|
A Cabinet Member may not have a business interest in any entity conducting business with the Provincial Government if the Cabinet Member himself or herself or together with one or more:
(a) family members of the Cabinet Member;
directly or indirectly owns or controls more than five per cent of the shares, stock, membership or other interest of that entity.
(this brings the handbook directly in line with our recently adopted Business Interests of Employees Act)
|No such rule exists in the national handbook.|
|3.||Accommodation and subsistence expenses incurred by members and debited to the State||Accommodation and subsistence expenses should be kept as low as possible by making use of hotels that have reasonable tariffs. As a rule, five star hotels must be avoided.||Accommodation and subsistence expenses should be kept as low as possible by making use of hotels, which suit the status of Members, but that have reasonable tariffs. There is no rule on avoiding five star hotels.|
1. The total purchase price of the vehicle chosen by the Member may not exceed 40 % of the inclusive annual remuneration package of the Member.
2. The total purchase price per vehicle must include VAT, accessories, extras and a motor maintenance plan offered by the manufacturer.
3. Members are at liberty to choose appropriate vehicles of lesser value in the interest of spending efficiency.
The total purchase price of the vehicle chosen by the Member may not exceed 70 % of the inclusive annual remuneration package of the Member.
Guidelines 2 & 3 are not in the national handbook
|5.||Use of rental vehicles||Only Group D (1600 cc and automatic) vehicles may be rented at airports unless it is impractical for the required purpose as determined by the Member.||There is no limit on the type of vehicles Ministers can rent.|
Domestic and International flights
|1.Domestic Flights: members should use economy class|
2.International Flights: members should use economy class when travelling less than 8 hours for official purposes, For flights (departing Cape Town) longer than 8 hours, Members may utilise business class.
1. Domestic flights: members are entitled to business class travel
2. International flights: members are entitled to first class travel
|7.||State sponsored Credit Cards|
|No departmental sponsored credit cards may be obtained in the name of a Member.||Ministers may obtain a departmental sponsored credit card with the express authorisation of the DG or relevant accounting officer.|
|8.||Security measures at private residences||No direct payment to Members for security measures to be installed. The Provincial Department of Public Works to be solely responsible for the installation of security measures. Provincial contribution to be reviewed annually to correspond with the changing costs of security systems.||Direct payment made to Members for security measures implemented at private residences. Provincial contribution to be reviewed every 5 years to correspond with the changing costs of security systems.|
We do not agree that the ministerial handbook should be classified as a confidential document, requiring a PAIA application to gain access to it. Any member of the public should be able to use this handbook to hold the Provincial Executive accountable for the way in which they spend taxpayer's money. You can view the full document on Cape Gateway (click here).
We cannot call on citizens to take personal responsibility, unless we use the peoples' money responsibly, ethically and transparently. The Western Cape ministerial handbook will achieve this by putting a stop to excessive spending that benefits politicians at the expense of the people.