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Cape Town - A faulty odometer is the reason a parliamentary reply by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula showed he paid R1 375 for a 1km trip in a rented Jaguar in September last year.
Mbalula’s spokesman, Paena Galane, said on Wednesday that with the odometer not working properly, the travel agent and car hire firm agreed to invoice the Department of Sport and Recreation for the estimated distance from East London to Mqanduli, where the minister attended an outreach programme.
This information was checked with the travel agent before commenting, Galane said.
However, it was not reflected in the parliamentary reply to the DA, which, as in 2011, fired off a series of questions about car hire by cabinet members.
Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over the R3 125 Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile spent to travel 1km in a rented Audi 5 in January last year, according to the parliamentary reply signed off by his deputy. Requests for comment were sent to his office. The minister is with President Jacob Zuma on a state visit to Senegal.
This week it emerged the ministerial luxury car hire bill stood at R5.2 million. Not all ministers have replied.
DA MP and transport spokesman Ian Ollis said on Wednesday his party would ask Parliament’s watchdog on public spending, the standing committee on public accounts, to probe “the high expenditure on rental cars… which is clearly being abused”.
Ministers may hire cars for official purposes – aprt from using their official vehicles in Pretoria and Cape Town – in terms of the 2007 ministerial handbook.
A review of these guidelines has been under way for at least three years, following several public protector investigations into ministerial compliance, particularly around stays in luxury hotels and flights.