Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu has her work cut out for her to establish a single public service.

Pretoria - Former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu has summed up her feelings for her favourite parliamentary sparring partner, DA MP David Maynier, with a special Christmas gift - a calculator, “to assist you to count better”.

She was presumably referring to the row over the precise number of flights she took on SA Air Force-chartered luxury Gulfstream jets, Maynier said, but he thought the gift should rather have gone to the defence officials who supplied the incorrect figure, more than 200, in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

Maynier suggested that the real problem was that Sisulu had flown “so frequently that somebody lost count” of how many flights she had taken.

An indignant Sisulu recently told Maynier to “keep his flea-infested body at peace and sit down” during one of their many heated exchanges on the matter, telling him she had referred it to the leader of government business in Parliament, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. She insisted she had taken only 35 such flights.

Maynier said on Tuesday that he was “relieved the minister has not sent me a bottle of Frontline to deal with my fleas”.

She wrote him a pithy festive season message sporting the official letterhead of her new department, public service and administration: “Dear Mr Maynier. Please find enclosed a small Christmas gift to assist you to count better! I am confident that you’ll be able to put it to good use.”

Asked whether he had any return gifts in mind, Maynier said that he “really would have liked to give the minister 12 free tickets on Kulula”.

“A monthly flight on Kulula would be an ideal opportunity for the minister to reconnect with ordinary people.” Sadly, his budget was rather tight, he said, and “I just don’t have enough ‘moolah’ to afford 12 flights for [her]”.

He did have a Christmas wish for her, however. “This has been a very tough year for the minister. It cannot have been easy to let go of her favourite ultra-luxury Gulfstream jet. I really hope the minister takes a well-deserved rest… and comes back rested in 2013.”

Political Bureau