'ministers insensitive'

ANC deputy general secretary Thandi Modise has lambasted ministers who bought luxury vehicles in excess of R1million, saying they were insensitive to the fact that the country was in a recession and indifferent to the sufferings of the poor.

Modise said individuals who were deployed by the party must be sensitive to the constituency that brought them to power.

"That position I get must make me sensitive to the constituencies. So for me, we should have bought cars but we should also have considered the fact that we are in a recession. There are people who don't know where the next loaf of bread is going to come from," Modise told delegates attending the SA Democratic Teachers Union general council in Ekurhuleni.

The call by Modise follows the public outcry about the purchasing of luxury cars. Earlier this week, Cosatu also called on the ministers to return the luxury cars.

Yesterday, the office of another minister in the economic cluster, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, said Patel was using ordinary cars from the government garage, his department's fleet and his own vehicle.

Patel assured the nation that when he decides to buy a vehicle, he would take into consideration the fact that the country was battling the effects of an economic recession.

Patel joins Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who bought two official vehicles - a Lexus GS 300 SE and an Audi A6 3.0T - costing a combined R1,15million.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande attracted public criticism for buying a R1,1million BMW 750i.

Also under fire are Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, who bought two BMW 750i saloons costing R2,4million, and Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, who bought two 2009 Mercedes Benz ML350s worth R1,4million.