New guide doubles size of staff at ministers’ offices
Johannesburg - Members of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s executive will have double the staff complement at their offices and the State will pay twice as much for the cost of security at their private residences.
Strict new guidelines have replaced the ministerial handbook nearly a decade after Jacob Zuma’s administration announced it was being reviewed.
The 33-page Guide for Members of the Executive will apply to ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs, and has replaced the ministerial handbook approved by former president Thabo Mbeki’s Cabinet in February 2007.
Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu announced that the guide came into effect on June 8. In a letter to colleagues in the executive (ministers and deputy ministers) as well as premiers and MECs, he 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,” reads Mchunu’s letter.
Ramaphosa has the power to review the guide from time to time.
In terms of the new guide, staff complements in the offices of ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs will have to be more than double in some instances.
Ministers and premiers were previously entitled to 10 core support staff, while deputy ministers and MECs could have up to six.
Now, the guide states, ministers’ offices will have 15 posts, while premiers and MECs will each have 13 staff, and deputy ministers 11.
The government will also increase the amount that can be spent on security at private residences designated as official residences, from R100000 to R250000, and this amount will be adjusted annually by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Police Minister Bheki Cele on July 1 each year, based on the inflation rate.
Should the cost of security measures be more than R250000, the minister, deputy minister, premier or MEC will be responsible for the difference.
The new guide also gives Mboweni widespread powers to curb spending on luxury cars and other perks.
Official vehicles will be purchased by departments through the transversal contract concluded by National Treasury in consultation with Cele, to buy in bulk directly from manufacturers. A transversal contract is centrally facilitated and arranged by National Treasury for goods or services required by one or more government departments or state institutions.
The guide’s provisions allow Mboweni to determine the cost of ministerial vehicles and to review the total purchase price in consultation with Cele, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and their state security counterpart, Ayanda Dlodlo.
The guide follows the SA Local Government Association’s (Salga) rejection of the new municipal cost containment regulations, which were scheduled to come into effect from Monday.
According to Salga, the regulations were not in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and other related legislation.
Salga said it was concerned whether procedure prescribed in the MFMA was complied with, such as consultation with all relevant stakeholders, obtaining public comments and subjecting the regulations to parliamentary scrutiny before being promulgated.
Earlier this month, Mboweni and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced that the country’s 257 mayors would have to use public transport or shuttles, and stop hiring expensive luxury cars.