Communications Minister Roy Padayachie.

During his stint as deputy public service and administration minister, Roy Padayachie racked up car rental costs of more than R1.24 million.

This puts the current communications minister in pole position in the spending on hired cars among ministers and their deputies who have provided details so far.

The Public Service and Administration Ministry said Padayachie’s car rental costs were incurred because there were no funds to buy him an official car after he joined in May 2009.

The official car he had just bought as deputy communications minister was left behind when he moved portfolios.

“The position of deputy minister was a new addition to the structure of the department and thus could not be budgeted for accordingly. During his entire tenure with the portfolio, deputy minister Padayachie did not purchase any official vehicle,” said Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi in a written parliamentary reply.

The reply added that cars had been hired for Padayachie on 48 occasions between March 1 and October 31 last year – a BMW530i, BMW530d, Mercedes-Benz E320 and Mercedes-Benz E350. The total car hire costs of the ministry amounted to just more than R1.8m.

According to the ministerial handbook, which sets out benefits and privileges including travel and housing, and defines good conduct in office, ministers may have official cars valued at 70 percent of their gross income in Pretoria and Cape Town.

They are allowed to hire vehicles if their work takes them away from these centres. - Political Bureau