Minister for Public Works & Minister of Public Service & Administration on accommodation & transportation of members of the executive
27 Oct 2009
Geoff Doidge, Minister for Public Works
Richard Baloyi, Minister of Public Service and Administration
Professor Richard Levin, Director-General Department of Public Service & Administration
Solly Malebye, Director-General Department of the Department of Public Works
Remarks by Minister Baloyi
Good afternoon, we are here as the two Ministers to communicate the position that have got something to do with our responsibilities. I am the Minister of Public Service & Administration. One of the responsibilities that go with this position is to deal with issues related to conditions at Government work. I deal with issues related to conditions of service for public servants, but what may also be noted for public consumptions is to also deal with issues related to the conditions of ourselves as Executive authority/Ministers in the area were in order for us to do our work. Government provides some tools that we have to use to do our work. Specifically in my responsibility is to deal with issues related to motor vehicles or cars as means to do work by Ministers. I am talking about these as tools to do work, in any environment where some employers will decide to say our employees will be provided with the necessary tools. Others call them tools of trade; others refer to it as the means to execute your work. Ministers by the nature of their work have to be highly mobile. They have to travel from one place to another doing work, and this travelling involves travelling long distances and also goes with the need to provide a conducive environment for them to be able to do their work. We have decided as Government, actually as old as Government self (to provide this). All of us know even by the time that some of us were struggling outside Government; it has always been the responsibility of Government to provide the necessary minimum resources that are required for Ministers to do their work. We have an instrument which we refer to as a Ministerial Handbook. This instrument provide an instructional policy positions which we refer to as a guide because it says you will be able to provide support to Ministers for them to do their work by providing an opportunity for them to be allocated vehicles. As you know that the Minister’s location in terms of their place of work is that they are either in
Remarks by Minister Doidge
The situation we have in
In most instances in this particular Cabinet it depends on the configuration of Cabinet and where Ministers and Deputy Ministers come from. They also have another option of utilising their private residences should that be in close proximity to where the seat of the Executive or the legislative capital which is
What is important is the current situation in the accommodation of Ministers and Deputy Ministers at present is that in Cape Town out of the 33 I think it is we have only 10 members that need to take up the official accommodation and out of the ten, seven members will take occupation in the first week in December this year and that is due to a number of operational issues. Firstly I don’t know if some of you know some of these residences are heritage sites and some of them are extremely old. If you came to visit me you will see that the house I reside in was build in 1724 and some of the challenges I faced in refurbishing and the upkeep of these houses has to be done in a particular way. There is an ongoing routine maintenance program of all the residences and not only residences all State buildings. We have an ongoing routine maintenance program for these residences if it happens to straddle an election period so be it the routine maintenance has to continue these are assets of the State who comes and who doesn’t utilize is not the issue here what’s important is that we have to maintain the assets of the State and especially those assets are of significant value. What we also had to do is to acquire additional housing stock and that process has begun and is rolling out as we speak and some of the residences that will be occupied in December will be some of the new stock that we have acquired is what people will take up in December. The current configuration of the Cabinet has also provided us with a challenge of providing additional housing stock to Members of the Executives in both
Journalist: I have spoken to a number of foreign diplomats who are presently in
Journalist: You say the cars are tools of the trade then can you explain what are the DVD players and rear seat entertainment and the extra money spent on high gloss satin chrome used for? How is that tools of the Minister’s trade. How is that part of their work?
Journalist: COSATU described the Handbook as a relic from the apartheid era what is your comment on that?
Journalist: The question is for Minister Doidge can you talk more about the pending review of the Ministerial Handbook and also what are you looking there and when can you expect that review to be complete?
Journalist: I’m sorry I was partly covered by that last question because I thought that his press conference was called to tell us that you were going to downgrade the cars Ministers were allowed to buy and that you would say something about the level of hotel accommodation that Ministers were allowed to occupy when they are not staying in their luxury homes.
Minister Baloyi: The first question on having to look at whether we may buy vehicles in a pool whether we are looking at running these vehicles for a longer period my response to that question is that when you look at using the vehicle the period that you should actually use the vehicle it should not be divorced from the environment you are using the vehicle. When Ministers are based in
Let me go to the next question that talks about accessories some of which are referred as extras in a vehicle and stuff like that. What the Handbook is saying in Chapter 5 it says if I may quote “The total purchase price of the vehicle chosen may not exceed 70% of the member’s annual remuneration package.” Now when you look at vehicles it depend on what you are actually buying there are vehicles that come with standard accesses when you look at them you would then say this is an extra and stuff like that. But at the moment the way we are managing this like I said it’s decentralized, Departments are actually dealing with these things. When officials have to buy a vehicle for a Minister they will then say how far can we go the Handbook then says you may go up to over 70% and takes you over a million then you look at a situation like that. What we are then saying at the moment we have seen the prescription and if it’s within the prescription that is actually what is going o. The Deputy President answering a question in the National Assembly he raised the issue about the Ministers that may be looking at that and my name was one of the Ministers who are actually looking at that. We are looking at how best you can administer the implementation of the provision of the Ministerial Handbook that is what we will be looking at.
Now referring to what is said by COSATU that the Handbook is a relic from the apartheid era let me not get into (that). The Handbook talks about something which is a reality today it’s a reality that Ministers will have to travel from one point to another. It’s a reality that we are living in an environment that is highly regularized, what are we regularising what instrument will control it? This instrument, the Ministerial Handbook, is there to make sure you don’t leave it to a person to go up to the limit as by choice there is a management and that management is contained in the Handbook. So the Handbook is relevant today. But to say completely we should look at the Handbook as something likened to apartheid honestly speaking that might be too much. I’m not even sure if that issue was raised and if raised its quoted out of context but its relevant today.
The last question as to whether we are not looking at the situation where we may have to downgrade we are saying as the Deputy President has said, any instrument that you have is subject to interpretation and application it would have to be interpreted and applied in an environment depending on the environment as it is. At the moment we have this decentralised approach in terms of dealing with this we are looking at the possibility of whether we may not actually centralise and then see how best to deal with that. When we reach that stage we will definitely communicate. What we can say is that the time period of this vehicle is linked to terms that is why you are talking about a 120 000km or a period of five years that is why you find more often at the end of the term its either the vehicle would have outrun its mileage or it would have completed its term. Thanks for the questions raised.
Journalist: So are you going to downgrade?
Minister Baloyi: Downgrade is not an outright direction that you take you need to assess the environment as it is. Like I have indicated when you look at your affairs the problem may be that before you analyse like I’m saying any instrument of control has to be implemented in an environment when you actually look at the environment as it is. So there are a few areas we are going to look at the factors will then produce a final outcome to then say this is what we are going to do so if downgrade is the way to go. The Handbook doesn’t say you have to be there it says may not. So the administration needs to be addressed but in a situation where you decentralise the application. Its Departments doing that and you will find that is how things are addressed. But it’s a possibility but it’s not the obvious thing we are talking about now.
Minister Doidge: On the question raised on the Commissioner’s residence let’s just clarify one or two things there is that accommodation which is provided for in the Ministerial Handbook and for the various categories as it outlines those categories. Then there are policies within Departments that provide for certain categories of office bearers within a Department that would qualify for accommodation. Let me read to you from the Police policy so that we get this clear on page 53 its very clear “State housing may in consultation with the Head of Logistics be reserved for the incumbents of the following posts, National Commissioner, Deputy National Commissioner, Provincial Commissioner, Deputy Provincial Commissioner, Area Commissioner, Station Commissioner and Mortuary Supervisors and then it moves on and it explains where there are exceptions.”
The mandate of Public Works is that when a Department acquires and asset like a house we become the custodians of that property in the end of that transaction and when then provide it back to that Department for usage. In the case of the Police the request has been received by the Department of Public Works to acquire a residence of a particular standing, nature and all the requirements that the client Department would specify and it’s up to that client Department to specify, size, security, location and a number of other criteria. That has been received by Public Works and Public Works as mandated by law has the role to play of providing support to that particular client which is police to look then an acquire the property in terms of their criteria which we pay for and claim back from the Police. That is how the system works so Public Works will go on the criteria and the specifications that have been provided we find accommodation for the Commissioner concerned come back and say we have done it are you happy with it, we reach agreement, the Commissioner moves in. We pay what we have to pay and we claim it back from the client which in this case is the Department of the Police and that’s how the system works.
The reality of the situation is that Commissioner George Fivaz had a private residence and Commissioner Jackie Selebi had a private residence and that is why there is a need to acquire a residence there may have been a residence way before that but in terms of where the stock is or it might have been disposed of that is something I would have to ask the relevant Department for but that’s the role of Public Works in this particular aspect.
Michael asked the question about the issue of hotel accommodation, what we need to spell out here is that accommodation other than the accommodation in the two capitals where we have housing stock or we don’t have housing stock is the responsible of the line functioning Departments that supports that particular principal and the official responsible for that policy at that level is the accounting officer in that Department. So there is nobody who says this is where I want to be or this is what I want to pay those are the responsibilities of the accounting officers in those Departments and that is where that resides.
Journalist: In terms of the review what are we looking at in terms of the period when can we expect a new Ministerial Handbook?
Journalist: Archbishop Desmond Tutu said despite the fact the Handbook says you can spend R1.3m on a car. His point is that it’s not really moral or ethical in a country like
Journalist: Minister Baloyi, the President made a pronouncement on this issue in August this year where he said because Ministers are aware of the debate around this issue they would stop buying such expensive cars. He did that in early August since then Ministers have continue to buy cars of high values and I wanted to know what you think we should make of that? And also whether you see this debate as valid because as you say nobody has broken any rules so is it necessary for such a debate and do you think it’s valid. And then to Minister Doidge what is the Budget for the extra housing stock you would need to acquire for the additional Ministers that comes with the reconfiguration of Cabinet.
Journalist: Minister Baloyi I’m not clear about the clause you refer to is the last part the total purchase price of the vehicle chosen in reference to one vehicle or both? The other if we go according to that approved review of the remuneration of public office bearers which kept the remuneration of Ministers at R1.6m, 1.2 comes to 74.4% can you address us on that one.
Journalist: You say the Handbook is relevant but just referring to this prelim report from the Government task team which reflects savings in that regard. It says the Handbook was developed several years ago and several aspects may no longer be suitable or relevant? So can you tell us which parts are relevant and which aren’t?
Journalist: I’m sure there are many journalists in this room who have been to party political functions, rallies and the like and have seen Cabinet Ministers arrive for electioneering in their official motor vehicles is this sanctioned by the Ministerial Handbook?
Minister Baloyi: The first question is when are we are going to see the conclusion of the review process we are working on that it will have to be soon that we finalise the review process. The next question is whether it’s morally correct to use these vehicles simply because the Ministerial Handbook allows it to be. The issue one want to deposit as a debate and response to this issue is that let us look at morality versus convenience this is a tool to do work the tool do to work must be assessed in terms of the environment where this worker is suppose to do work what constitutes morality? What constitute convenience when we look at the type of cars and the price of cars itself? When you look at these things you will then see than honestly speaking to raise the issue of morality in this issue is it to introduce a debate that belong squared in that environment. I think we need to look at these areas. That is what I can then say. Honestly speaking let’s look at the issue like that. Is it necessary to have this debate when Minister Baloyi says the Handbook allows that no one is breaking the law is it necessary to have a debate like this. The answer is yes. It’s necessary to have a debate like this people debate because in the debate they would be able to put and set the record straight. We are mainstreaming this debate around the issue of whether you are talking about this as personal belongings to then say let’s look at what the Government as the employer provide it remains a Government property now you utilise this for as long as you are still there until it has actually run its life when it’s of no significant value that is why I am raising that. When we raise issues such as morality all these things we need to but of cause like I indicated any instrument the Handbook included when you have to apply it you look at the environment as it is a point has been raised. The President has raised an issue around August how is this continued action justified. We then say the team of which I’m part of when we finalise how best we are going to look at the situation looking at the review of either the Handbook or at the application of the Handbook you then look at how best you would actually deal with these issues.
The question is whether this 70% limit is applicable to both vehicles or applicable only to one, its applicable to both those who did the calculations were basing it on the understanding that you are not just talking about the salary and the percentage there but you are also talking about the tool that amount calculated out of that percentage is it going to give you the tool you can use effectively, successfully as I’ve indicated. We are talking about 70% but when you look at the salaries and you calculate one has indicated you arrive at 74% may I then say on that one you know there is always this issue about movement of figures and they don’t always move in the same direction. The calculation you have to look at what time was it done, I’m not sure if your 74% is correct I would have to look at that. But what the Handbook says is that the price of the vehicle may not exceed 70% of the annual remuneration of the Minister.
Now on the issue of functions, Ministers have been seen attending functions driving these vehicles. Now the issue is when does a Minister cease to be a Minister during his time of being a Minister? Does that question arise, if you are a Minster today because you are going to church you cease to be a Minister for that particular point of time we need to be fair in terms of raising some of these issues because they may be raised to entertain a debate but at the end of the day this debate forms public opinion out there. The Ministers are going to address some of this functions in their official capacities as Ministers, but the issue is, is there such an arrangement taking into consideration the convenience, security everything around the Ministers and is there a time that we will say hold on a little bit. I think these are things we should actually consider and provide even answers ourselves. I think the gentleman agrees with me thank you for agreeing with me.
Minister Doidge: On the issue of the budgets for the acquisition of accommodation, if you go back in the Estimates of National Expenditure in 2009/10 you will see there were certain resources set aside for the incoming Government. However it was captured, it’s there. And then from that the new Administration decided that out of that pool of reserves certain amounts will be allocated to various functions of the new Administration. And clearly when the Adjustment Estimates are finalised you will see that an amount of R150m will be provided for Public Works to carry out its mandate in terms of Government stock that it needs to bring about improvement.
That improvement could be from the refurbishing of existing accommodation that can be used as offices for members of the executive, it can be for Departments, residences and most importantly there are a number of other issues that are related to the accommodation aspects. You know that there is a general repairs and maintenance in our Department called RAM. That’s ongoing in the Department from its own budget. But where we have to increase the accommodation space for the incoming Executive and we use from our housing stock that’s not up to scratch, you know that we have to clean it up, when you buy a house the leased they can do when they move out is to paint the house for you, make sure everything is working, and those are the issues that we deal with. This amount of money also covers the garden services, furniture that needs to be acquired.
There are policies in terms of how we deal with those movable assets and assistance with removals is a very costly exercise, we have to provide it for members of the executive that come and go from different capitals and towns to where they want to reside. And that’s part of the package, but when we talk about this category of accommodation, I don’t know why we only focus on the executive, I don’t know if any of you would know how much Acacia Park cost us to renovate and refurbish, and that’s for Members of Parliament. That accommodation is not shabby but very much up to standard. Millions were spent on the 3 parks, Acacia Park,
Minister Baloyi: You said that there may be like a contradiction between what I said and what is in the handbook. I’m not talking about the Ministerial Handbook (Task Team Booklet) that the Minister of Finance was talking about as he was tabling the Medium Term Budget Statement yesterday. To say the Handbook says there are sections of the Ministerial Handbook that may no longer be relevant. I think if the Handbook contains exactly what was intended. It will say that there may be sections of the Ministerial Handbook that may need a review, that’s why we are looking at that. The Ministerial Handbook is a living document which is subject to constant review and when you review, you not necessarily doing that because you are invited to look at areas where you may have to strengthen some of the areas. You may to find that some sections are obsolete themselves, and then you may have to do that. What I said and what is in that Handbook actually complement each other.
Journalist: The Minister touched up on the issue of categories of accommodation, there was an issue that was raised by the Minister of Home Affairs that accommodation that bought up houses has been neglected. There are cases where women have to share rooms with men because there is no sufficient accommodation. It seems like you are prioritizing the executive, you are neglecting people at the border posts and they cannot really carry out their work because there is not sufficient accommodation. I’d like to get your take on that?
Journalist: Is the Finance Minister being paid half as much as he’s Cabinet colleagues that he chose cars of half the value?
Journalist: I think when we came out here, what we expected was to hear what the options are in terms of what the committee or the task team that’s looking into these issues, what it’s doing? Perhaps these are the options and we are looking at either downscaling or centralizing. Is it possible that you can at least give us clear indications of what the proposals, options are that are on the table?
Journalist: Mr. Baloyi you started off by saying that the question of cars is to be centralized. Do you mean that the decision for purchasing of cars is not any longer to be the province of the line Ministry, that’s it’s going to be taking over by the Public Service & Administration Ministry? Or do you mean that answering question in parliament on the subject is going to be the
Minister Baloyi: Chantal asked a question as to where it does bother to have a situation where during times where the economy like it is now, you will look at issues related to the purchase of cars. My response to that question is that yes it does bother, that’s why we are saying we are considering options. When you say a review you then are saying you are going to look at how best you will deal with these things. I said the review may mean how you will implement it, because the Handbook talks of a maximum and it’s not saying you shall, you may not exceed, not that’s the limit, and it’s in the manner as to how you manage these things and that you may be in a position to deal with this issue.
Like I have indicated that up to now and maybe until we come with options, whichever option will finally be adopted, the practice will be as it is. That’s why the President made a call in August to say; mindful of the situation as it is it will be proper if we look at the situation as it is when we finance or when we purchase cars. There is no Minister who has got a personal salary dispensation different to other Ministers. The question to then say is there anyone who is purchasing whether outside the provision of the Handbook, the answer is no. The Handbook says, may not exceed, so if you are at the minimum you have no exceeded, if you are at the midpoint, you have not exceeded. So there is no Minister who actually is paid differently.
The issue is when you have an instrument, the instrument provides a provision that you need to use that instrument to achieve something and it’s not centrally maintained or managed in terms of implementation. And you act within the provision, you may not be set on the wrong side, the employer will have to device means and then say tighten the arrangement if the employer feels like we need to do that. And that is a possibility that when we deal with issues related to the review, one who finalises that, it’s a possibility that we may actually be looking at. I don’t want to pre-empt the final outcome of the review, because its nota personal matter. It’s an issue that we are going to engage on as a team also is getting views.
You know we have demonstrated over a period of 15 years that ours is participatory in decision making processes. There is transparency in what we do, so if I pre-empt it and say this is what is going to happen then it becomes a personal program, and it’s not. What are the options? I will appreciate it if you say raise proposals. He raised a very important point, why don’t you look at the situation of a possibility of looking at a pool. It’s a contribution that when we deal with these issues you might want to look at some of those things. If I do that I am operating against the democratic principles which put this country to be what it is, and I think it may not be correct for me to do that. The message we are taking away from this is that the Government is looking at these issues, centralised not only in terms of racing question, but also in terms of working towards improving in terms of the instruments that we have.
When I spoke about issues related to Departments dealing with this. I was putting the record straight that it’s not the individual Ministers who are doing the procurement themselves as if these are personal belongings. These are Government belongings, the Departments deal with the purchases. In some instances you find you are as busy as a Minister, you will be asked Minister we are getting a vehicle for you that you will use because it’s a Government vehicle, and the officials are dealing with that. There is no way of managing, like Public Works with the issues of accommodation; it’s actually operated like that. So the point I was raising was not that we are taking away that from Departments, when you look at a picture like that, you are then saying it’s me. The reason why I am speaking for the Government now is that if there is improvement to be raised, I will have to suggest that improvement here. Let’s do things differently and stuff like that. That is how it goes.
Minister Doidge: On the issue of the border posts, I’m not sure which border post you might be referring to because there are 74 ports of entry in this country and there is no lack of planning or providing of services to border posts. Currently the 3 big border posts we are spending money on are Lebombo which is R75m, Skilpadhek, which is R350m, and Golela which is R250m. Those are the major border posts which include everything from border posts, borders posts are the operational and management responsibility of the BCOCC not the Department of Public Works. We simply carry out the requiring of accommodation, engaging with the construction of those facilities, but they are the client Departments that manage that process, and in each one of these there are extensive housing projects. In areas where I have visited we have provided temporary accommodation for the people of, remember the border posts consist of intelligence people, police SARS, so everyone gets taken into account when we provide that accommodation, and that’s how we deal with the issue of accommodation.
The briefing was adjourned.
PUBLIC WORKS MINISTER GEOFF DOIDGE AND PUBLIC SERVICE ADMINISTRATION MINISTER RICHARD BALOYI BRIEF MEDIA ON ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORTATION OF MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE
Minister Baloyi was last week tasked by Cabinet to deal with all future issues relating to vehicles, while Minister Doidge will respond to the matter of accommodation for Ministers.
Minister Baloyi said Government as an employer, determines the conditions of employment including the provision of necessary tools for members of the executive to do their work.
“The work of members includes travelling mainly between
“Chapter 5 of the Ministerial Handbook for Members of the Executive and Presiding officers stipulates that members at national level may be provided with one vehicle for use in
Outlining the legal obligations of the State in the provision of accommodation for Members of the Executive, Minister Doidge said members perform their core functions in the legislative and administrative capitals of
Explaining how far the Department is in the allocation of houses to the Executive, Minister Doidge said only ten members of the Executive are yet to take occupation of official residences in
“Of the ten members in need of accommodation in
The Minister emphasised the need to take into account the difference in numbers between the current and previous Executives.
“Due to the reconfiguration of the Cabinet and in following the mandate of the Department in providing official residences for members of the Executive, Public Works has invested in additional housing stock. Thus far, six additional properties were purchased in Cape Town and as Minister, I am satisfied that due process was followed in the purchasing of these properties and that we did so in line with policy and in meeting our mandate as a Department.”
Referring to the announcement of a task team to look at government expenditure by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in the National Assembly last week, Minister Baloyi said the team would guide Cabinet as to how to approach amongst other considerations, issues of costs related to accommodation of Executive Members.
“As mentioned earlier, the purchases are not outside of policy and regulations. The team, as announced by the Deputy President will make recommendations to Cabinet as to how Government can use cost saving measures in terms of expenditure by the Executive and Government as a whole. These are matters that the Cabinet is conscious of and will make the necessary decisions once we receive the report from the Task Team.”
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