The order to curb spending on luxury cars, accommodation and travel, and entertainment came from Zuma himself, Chabane told reporters following Cabinet’s regular Wednesday fortnightly meeting.
“Once the guidelines [by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan] have been set out, we’ll then sit and look at the issues which relate to the presidency as a whole and adjust ourselves accordingly,” said Chabane.
In his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday, Gordhan announced that government intended to slash perks for all officials, from ministers to mayors, to save more than R2 billion. The new rules would apply from December 1 to all spheres of government, he said.
Chabane said Zuma’s instructions included “issues which impacted on the ministerial handbook”.
“Therefore the ministerial commitee on the budget had to confer with the committee which is dealing with the ministerial handbook to ensure that those elements as the president directed are implemented,” Chabane said.
The minister said the long-awaited amendments to the ministerial handbook would be finalised soon a promise which was made by government several times before.
The process of amending the handbook which regulates the benefits and perks of public office bearers has taken more than four years so far. Chabane blamed the delay on the need for extensive consultations.
The handbook is expected to cap the amount political office-bearers can spend on cars. “The measures which affect the executive and aspects which fall in the context of the ministerial handbook are enforceable,” Chabane said.
He stressed the handbook amendments and cutting ministerial perks as announced by Gordhan were two separate processes, but would be aligned to ensure consistency. The handbook and the perks cuts would apply to ministers, premiers, and mayors.
“I think the minister [Gordhan] is quite clear that the measures we are taking are going to be binding throughout the state machinery –including both the provincial and local government,” said Chabane. The cost-cutting measures were welcomed by the entire Cabinet, he said.
“These measures will go a long way in reducing any wastage in government spending.” Cabinet believed taxpayers’ money would be used more efficiently and not wasted on luxuries. “Cabinet calls on all national and provincial departments, municipalities, public entities and constitutional institutions to implement these measures,” Chabane said.