President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Eraldo Peres/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected a new ministerial handbook that would have seen members of his executive, premiers and MECs receive more perks.

Information obtained by Independent Media shows that Ramaphosa’s Cabinet has ordered Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Public Works and Infrastructure Minster Patricia de Lille to consult further on the financial implications of the new guide for members of the executive.

This was after the new document was presented to the Cabinet following its public release in June. Apparently, a newly revised guide was presented to the Cabinet last month and was awaiting the president’s approval.

Issues flagged and addressed in the new guide include the staff complement in the ministerial offices, the costs of official vehicles as well as the airline class of domestic and international flights. The guide also focuses on special travel benefits for ministers and their deputies and the occupation of stateowned residences.

Security upgrades at private residences, payment of water and electricity as well as domestic services also came under the spotlight. Equipment including cellphones and benefits to former members of the executive after relinquishing office were also scrutinised as part of the review of the ministerial handbook. 

The 33-page guide applies to ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs and was expected to replace the ministerial handbook approved by former president Thabo Mbeki’s cabinet in February 2007. Mchunu announced that the guide came into effect on June 8 this year.

In a letter to his colleagues in the executive (ministers and deputy ministers) as well as premiers and MECs in June, Mchunu said Ramaphosa had approved the guide “Members of the executive and the staff supporting such members are urged to acquaint themselves with the provisions thereof and ensure that fiscal prudence is taken into account when applying the provisions thereof,” read Mchunu’s letter.

Ramaphosa has the power to review the guide from time to time. In terms of the new guide, the staff complements in the offices of ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs has more than doubled in some instances. Ministers and premiers were previously entitled to 10 core support staff while deputy ministers and MECs could have up to six, according to the handbook.

The proposed staff establishment for the office of a member (minister, deputy minister, premiers and MECs) and administrative support staff has been capped to between 11 and 15 people. Ministers’ offices would have 15 posts while premiers and MECs 13 each, with deputy ministers having 11, the guide stated.

The government would also increase the amount that can be spent on security at private residences designated as official residences from R100 000 to R250 000. The guide also gives Mboweni widespread powers to curb spending on luxury cars and other perks.

Political Bureau