South Africa: It's Belt-Tightening Time for Ministers, Premiers and MECs - Up to a Point

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In perilous economic times, we all have to make sacrifices. This was the message from Public Service Minister Senzo Mchunu on Monday, as he announced slashes to the perks granted to ministers, premiers and MECs. They include a cap on spending on cars, a reduction in staff and the end of business class flights domestically -- but some will argue the new austerity measures don't go far enough.

Members of the executive knew this day was coming. In Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's medium-term budget speech in October, he warned that government leaders would shortly be asked to tighten their belts. Among the measures promised by Mboweni: a cap on the cost of official cars and cellphone allowances, and restrictions on business class flights.

On Monday, public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu laid out the full extent of the austerity measures being imposed on ministers, premiers and MECs. They appear in the new revisions of what is colloquially known as the Ministerial Handbook -- which was revised in June, but attracted criticism at the time for the fact that some of the revisions actually expanded the benefits available to the executive.

Nobody will be able to make that claim this...

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