TEN vehicles worth a total of about R9m were bought for the wives of President Jacob Zuma between 2013 and 2016 using the budget of the police department, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said in a written reply to a parliamentary question Tuesday by DA MP Zakhele Mbhele.
The minister said the purchases were necessary “to provide comprehensive protection of VIP spouses”. Vehicles purchased for Zuma’s wives included Range Rover SUVs, two Land Rover Discovery SUVs and five Audi SUVs and sedans.
The purchase of luxury cars for Cabinet ministers themselves has been frowned on by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has appealed for modest purchases as part of a general belt tightening required by government in order for it to achieve its fiscal consolidation targets.
The continued purchase of these luxury cars has been possible because of a delay of over five years in finalising the ministerial handbook, which lays down what ministers are allowed in terms of vehicles, travel and accommodation.
Mbhele was very critical of the expenditure pointing out that the money could have funded 116 university students for a year, or 38 students for the course of a three-year degree. It could also have been used to hire an additional 61 police officers for a year or provide jobs for 1315 workers on the expanded public works programme.
“The President decided to rather spend this gigantic amount on lavish VIP vehicles for his wives. South Africa’s economy is in a dire state. The economy is bleeding jobs, while President Zuma continues to bleed South Africans dry,” Mbhele said.