Our hero this week is the new finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, who has started his tenure by taking a leaf out of the book of his predecessor Pravin Gordhan – he has asked his fellow ministers to be prudent in the purchase of their official vehicles.
Nene has also stated that he’ll keep the car he used as a deputy minister, thank you very much, and will not be tempted to splash out on a brand new luxury car. Nene’s current car is a R550 000 Nissan Pathfinder – a far cry from the million-plus models favoured by several other ministers.
"We will be calling for moderation given the current growth environment," he said.
In his last mid-term budget speech, delivered in October 2013, Gordhan announced new austerity measures aimed at cutting excessive government spending. The ministerial handbook does allow a minister or deputy minister to spend 70% of their gross annual salary on an official car, and to have one in Pretoria and one in Cape Town – but Gordhan wanted them to make a genuine effort to cut costs, especially in the perks department.
“Wasteful expenditure on expensive cars and overseas trips is unacceptable,” said the former finance minister. “Although most government spending is effectively managed, there are many opportunities to cut or minimise costs and stop abuse.”
It seems that his successor has taken this sentiment to heart.