New financial year calls for new ministerial guidelines

Issued by Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is of the view that the impending start of government’s new 2012-2013 financial year calls for a drastic revision of the ministerial handbook. This is critical if provincial government is indeed serious about achieving a clean and efficient government, especially if the Premier is serious about working towards operation clean audit for 2014.

When questioned on the frivolous spending of taxpayer’s money, on things like luxury cars, five star hotel stays and international flights, MEC’s decline to answer or simply refer to the current ministerial handbook produced by the national Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) 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 legalizes this form of power abuse.

The DA believes that if government is really serious about effecting change, the ministerial handbook must not be allowed to serve as an enabler for politicians to justify the funding of their platinum lifestyles with public money. In other words, the Northern Cape government must go back to the drawing board and develop a “no frills” ministerial handbook for the provincial executive.

The DA government in the Western Cape has already done this. Premier Helen Zille introduced a new ministerial handbook in line with the ‘no frills’ ethos of DA governments, whereby Western Cape provincial MECs are bound by tighter rules and regulations. This ensures that the scope for excessive spending has been significantly reduced when comparing it to what is stipulated in the national ministerial handbook.

At the same time we do not agree that the ministerial handbook should be classified as a confidential document. 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.

The Democratic Alliance in the province will embark on an in-depth study of the DPSA ministerial handbook, at the same time comparing it to the Western Cape’s leaner and more taxpayer friendly version. We will also be pushing in the Northern Cape Legislature for a revised ministerial handbook that cuts out unnecessary luxury by provincial cabinet members.

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