A threat to moral fibre

DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe has us confused.

DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe has us confused.

In the same breath that he says Cabinet has agreed to set up a task team to look into wasteful expenditure and to recommend measures of prudence, he says spending R43million on ministerial cars was a tonic the economy needed.

If he believes that, then he should perhaps recommend to President Jacob Zuma that he revise his austerity drive and force Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Economic Development Ibrahim Patel and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale to abandon their unhelpful self-effacing tendencies and place their orders for a car worth at least R1million.

We all know that will be silly. It is particularly disappointing coming from Motlanthe, who has a reputation as a perennial voice of reason.

We accept, as Mangosuthu Buthelezi put it, that the Democratic Alliance intends to "milk" the bling cars. Unfortunately for Buthelezi and Motlanthe, that is what opposition parties do in a multiparty parliament.

It is easy to get "bling-car fatigue". It is also threatening to our moral fibre. That is why we should stigmatise the life of opulence at the taxpayers' account.

As Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's R500000 hotel bill showed, our public representatives are yet to get the message that they are there to serve rather than be served.

So, instead of being irritated by the opposition parties, the ruling party must ensure that its deployees lead by example.