Slap in the face for taxpayers

REPORTS about government officials continuing to splurge taxpayers' money are really disheartening.

REPORTS about government officials continuing to splurge taxpayers' money are really disheartening.

This week details emerged of Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula having joined the bling brigade.

He is said to have spent a total of R1,6million on a BMW 740i and a Mercedes-Benz ML 5000 for his Pretoria and Cape Town offices.

Mbalula's new cars come with all the bling, including extras like ceramic surround controls, ambient interior lighting, lane departure warning, rear view camera and multi-contour seat packages.

The man credited for running a smooth ANC election campaign has now joined the ranks of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda in the luxury cars mahogany row.

All these at the expense of the recession-battered South African taxpayers.

As if this is not enough, the taxpayer was also this week hit with reports that Mbalula's boss Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had lived it up at one of Cape Town's luxury hotels.

Together with his entourage, Mthethwa is said to have racked up a R235000 bill in 17 days. This because his official residence was being renovated.

The DA has, correctly so, described the minister's stay in the luxury hotel as "a slap in the face for the average South African".

What really boggles the mind is how do all these people - who have been elected into office on a ticket of being "committed revolutionaries" - become so disdainful of the public outcry against their raiding of public coffers.

The lame excuse has always been that those who have splashed on luxury cars were within their rights, according to the ministerial book.

That is neither here nor there. The question is how do they justify such extravagance in a situation where this country is going through one of its worst recessions in 17 years?

What they are doing may be legally right, but is morally unjustified.

It points to a situation where people entrusted with the authority to bring change for the benefit of all South Africans allow themselves to be driven by self-indulgence.

This does not augur well for a country that faces a major challenge of fighting the scourge of conspicuous consumption.

This in a country where a few live on islands of wealth in a sea of poverty.