South Africa Curtails Officials’ Lavish Spending

South Africa Curtails Officials’ Lavish Spending

New rules go into effect Dec. 1 that will drastically cut the perks for South African government officials across the board, according to a report in All Africa.

Depending on how far each department takes its cost-saving steps, it could save the country $1.5 million to $200 million, the report said.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced the cuts in his mid-term budget policy review. The cuts are not only designed to prevent unethical use of public funds – such as when Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson flew her children and their au pair back from a holiday in Sweden at state expense, the report said.

The cuts include changes to policies regarding daily expenses and business travel, including who can travel, what will be paid for and what will not be covered.

All government credit cards will be revoked, and all first class travel will be discontinued. Ministers will be limited to two assistants on a trip, and assistants can no longer travel business class. The government will no longer pay for alcohol, except when entertaining visiting foreign heads of state.

The size of delegations traveling for any purpose will be reviewed with an eye toward shrinking the numbers going on trips.

Individuals will no longer be compensated for the use of their personal cars, and people who are issued cars as part of their perks will no longer be able to choose luxury cars. The standardized cost of allowable cars will approximate the level of a BMW 530, Gordhan said in an advance press briefing.

“In these difficult times, Cabinet has decided to take a number of initiatives, which will apply both to members of Cabinet and to officials in national, provincial and local government,” Gordhan said.

When he was asked if the new policies will apply to President Jacob Zuma, Gordhan replied that as a government official, most of the new rules would apply to the president. The president, however, does need a private plane, so plans that are reportedly in the works to buy a new jet will not be suspended. He declined to answer regarding the upgrade of Zuma’s home, which has been criticized.

Gordhan also said that every government department would need to consider how to reduce its use of consultants.