There appears to be no end in sight to the abuse of the public purse by some officials in government and state-owned entities, despite government’s commitment to clamp down on wasteful expenditure.
President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan have been making the right noises in this regard in the light of the tough economic times facing the country. But it seems their message has not reached everyone in government tasked with handling taxpayers’ money.
Spending on expensive cars and other luxuries continues unabated. The latest example of this is allegations that Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) boss Makhosini Msibi has splurged at least R2.3 million of taxpayers’ money on luxury cars and allocated himself four bodyguards.
According to a report in The Times newspaper, Msibi, who is being probed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, allegedly ordered the purchase of a silver-grey Mercedes-Benz E500, valued at more than R1 million, immediately after his appointment in 2013.
This was soon followed by another order for a luxury sedan valued at more than R1 million. As if that was not enough, the complaint lodged against Msibi states that each of his four bodyguards has been given the use of a VW GTI Golf 7.
Although Msibi still has to be given the opportunity to state his side of the story, it is deeply troubling that he has already confirmed the purchase of two luxury sedans, arguing that their procurement was approved by the board.
At a time when government is telling everyone to tighten their belts, is there any justification for the head of a state agency to spend millions of rands on luxury vehicles?
And what is Msibi doing with four bodyguards, each driving top-of-the-range sedans? Ironically, the RTMC commits itself on its website “to optimise the utilisation of public funds”.
The organisation also lists integrity and accountability among its values.
The allegations against Msibi, if proven true, are in conflict with what his organisation strives for.
They fly in the face of the austerity measures being sold to the public by government.