Monday, September 07, 2009

Cosatu Suggests Smaller Cars

Here's some cheery Monday news. Whether anyone in government pays attention to it is another matter.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Monday urged ministers who have bought cars of a million rand or more to trade them in for more modest transport.

Cosatu praised Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for contenting himself with a "modest Lexus car for R557 673 and an Audi A8 for R590 500".

"This is a welcome decision to respond to the public anger at the unnecessary expenditure of up to R1.4 million per vehicle on cars for other government ministers."

Cosatu said while it was true that those who have purchased top of the range BMWs had acted within the government rules, they had also displayed great insensitivity to the plight of South Africa's poor.

"The problem is that the rules themselves, contained in an apartheid-era hand book, need to be changed, and [Cosatu] welcomes reports that the government is now reviewing them," it said.

"If ministers are allowed to purchase expensive cars at taxpayers' expense it gives an impression that they do not care about the message this opulence gives to the poor.

"Spending so much money on vehicles is a slap in the face of the unemployed and people living in shanty towns. It gives politics a bad name."

The trade union federation said those who had bought flashy cars should return them and replace them "with the kind of modest cars bought by Comrade Pravin Gordhan and others".

It said it hoped government's spending review would result in a new set of rules based on the "revolutionary ethos and morality" of the African National Congress as a liberation movement.

Cabinet members who have splashed out on luxury BMWs include Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Higher Education Minister and SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande.

Nzimande's purchase of a BMW 7501 for R1,1-million prompted Democratic Alliance MP Wilmot James to quip: "It appears that only the very best will do for the leaders of the working class."

The government recently ordered a spending revue which it acknowledges was prompted by public outrage over the cost of ministerial cars.

According to government rules, ministers are entitled to a state-purchased car of a value equivalent to 70 percent of their annual salary. This equates to roughly R929 000. - Sapa

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