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26 July 2011 at 09:08 - Posted by Anonymous

Ministers in R2.5m 'Travelgate'


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The government has been hit by another hired car scandal, this time involving the Department of Public Service and Administration.

The department spent R1.4-million on hiring luxury cars for its deputy ministers for a year because there were "no funds available" to buy an official vehicle.

This was revealed yesterday in parliament by Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi.

Baloyi admitted that it had taken his department a year to buy an official vehicle for the deputy minister. Roy Padayachie - who was Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister between May 2009 and November 2010, before being promoted to Communications Minister when president Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet last year - used R1.2-million to hire cars between March and November 2010.

Baloyi said "the position of deputy minister was a new addition to the structure and thus could not be budgeted for accordingly".

He said "there were no funds available, therefore the department had to resort to hiring a vehicle". When Ayanda Dlodlo took over from Padayachie in November, the department kept up the practice, spending R200000 on hiring cars for her.

"The vehicles had to be hired because the deputy minister was without an official permanent vehicle and thus had to rely on hired vehicles. Her official vehicle could only be procured during March 2011. On other occasions the deputy minister was working outside Gauteng and Western Cape, where she has an official vehicle" said Baloyi.

DA MP Ian Ollis slammed Baloyi, saying a car could have been bought for less than R1.4-million. "It seems very reckless to do that with taxpayers' money," Ollis said.

Baloyi himself has spent more than R357000 on hiring cars since March 2010, saying this was because he was carrying out official duties in other provinces, away from Pretoria and Cape Town, where his official vehicles are parked.

Ministers and their deputies have spent more than R2.5-million on hired cars in the past year alone.

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