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Cape Town - Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile’s department spent R3 125 on hiring him an Audi A5 for two days last year. He travelled just one kilometre.
Mashatile was the worst culprit among cabinet ministers who spent R5.18 million to travel 368 000km in hired cars over the past 18 months, according to a series of parliamentary replies prompted by questions from the DA.
Other departments including Home Affairs, Human Settlements and Water and Environmental Affairs failed to send “adequate responses”, according to DA MP and transport spokesman Ian Ollis.
Mashatile evidently prefers Mercedes - he hired them eight times over the past 18 months, as well as BMWs, Audis and a Toyota Fortuner.
Events travelled to included a Brics meeting in February last year (in a Merc E300 at a cost of R3 211 for 313km); National Book Week in September last year (in a Merc C180 at a cost of R1 557 for 164km); and his official vehicle for use in Gauteng, an
Audi Q7 which he kept between May 2012 and August this year and paid R430 915, travelling 49 506km.
But the oddest was the Audi A5 he hired from January 4 to 5 last year, in which he travelled a single kilometre.
But it seems his department got better value for money in other car rentals: R820 189.64 was spent on car hire to travel about 84 265km - around R9.70 a kilometre.
The Rural Development and Land Affairs Department clocked up the largest car rental bill of R1.37 million for some 83 192km, or R16.5/km. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries emerged as the next big spender: R685 234.26 to travel a total of 35 951km, or R19/km.
“The excessive amounts spent on car rentals is a misuse of public funding as members of the executive already have official vehicles at their disposal,” said Ollis.
The use of car hire for official purposes is set out in the ministerial handbook. Earlier this year Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said revisions to the handbook were before an inter-ministerial committee.
According to the handbook, ministers may have official cars valued at 70 percent of their gross income in Pretoria and Cape Town.
They are also allowed to hire vehicles, at cost to their departments, if their work takes them away from these centres.
Ollis on Tuesday expressed disappointment there were only 20 replies to the 33 submitted parliamentary questions, and only 17 were answered correctly. He added that Home Affairs, Human Settlements, and Water and Environmental Affairs failed to sent “adequate responses”.
* It costs R22/km to rent a Audi A5 Cabriolet from Avis car hire.
The rental company charges R3 750 to rent the car for a day, covering 150km.
The all-inclusive cost also includes 98 percent insurance cover. A deposit of R46 000 also has to be paid to rent the car.