Will China’s R500m grant fund SA energy or our Champagne comrades

From Fikile’s razzmatazz to Angie Motshekga’s many rides, see just how much the ANC cabinet forks out

23 August 2023 - 19:00
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Fikile Mbalula and Blade Nzimande celebrate the ANC's landslide victory in the elections in 2009.
CHAMPAGNE COMRADES Fikile Mbalula and Blade Nzimande celebrate the ANC's landslide victory in the elections in 2009.
Image: Pic: JAMES OATWAY. 24/04/2009. © SUNDAY TIMES

The royal family has its private charters, Kim Jong Un has his cheese but in South Africa, the greatest duty on tax money is the glamorous lives of our elected MPs.

In the vein of bettering society, our honourable members have put their best designer foot forward, hosting the most well-catered for soirées. From parliament’s red carpets to statues erected in honour of struggle heroes, there’s plenty to go around when it comes to the many auspicious occasions that lie on the backs of our hardworking ministers.

However, our ministers have been known to make a few questionable choices with their budgets. Whether it’s the PPE tender fiasco or the massive debts from unpaid taxes, it would seem the pennies that should be helping South African citizens, only leave citizens in dire straits.

One can’t help but wonder, will that be the fate of the R500m China has so graciously donated to help with the energy crises? While it’s most likely that this might just be the assistance needed to alleviate the long-running load-shedding dilemma, here’s a look at the other costs that might be on the minds of our MPs and MECs.


While their gowns and suits worn at South Africa’s Met Gala, the state of the nation adresss, our politicians are not ones to skimp on bespoke civvies. Fikile Mbalula for one was quick to spot a faux set of Gucci shoes seen on the aisles of a Mr Price store. Which should be no surprise for the secretary-general who has rocked a couple of items from the brand. He has also not been shy to make appearances in a red and blue oystersteel R195,000 Rolex topped with his beloved Prada spectacles that can retail at R3,000.

While it might be a fraught battle tackling GBV, burning trucks and the increasing cyber crimes in SA, Bheki Cele keeps his cool while juggling his collection of 48 or more fedoras from Dobbs.


While local homeowners may be overwhelmed by the increasing costs, our ardent dignitaries have had to tackle two homes each. This year alone, TimesLIVE reported that ministers and their deputies owned homes that totalled R967m. And we don’t mean just one house per minister, this includes those who have two in Cape Town and Johannesburg. 

“On average, each ministerial house is valued at nearly R10m, which means that every ANC minister and deputy minister lives in two mansions (one in Cape Town and one in Pretoria) valued at a collective R20m — all courtesy of South African taxpayers,” Schreiber said in a statement

This is thanks to the ministerial handbook which allows our ever-busy cabinet stars the right to such lavish living. Both ministers and their deputies receive free water and electricity of up to R5,000 per month and the government spends R2.6m on generators for ministerial homes.


Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga.
Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga.

As potholes in the country find more depth than the art of an Order of Ikhamanga recipient, the councillors of Mogalakwena thought it would be an apt time to approve the purchase of cars worth R700,000. This especially shocked DA councillors who were surprised that the Jeep Cherokee and Fortuners bought the year before were not good enough.

As for the rest of the cabinet, Business Tech reported Faith Mathumbi’s infamous 2017 line that ministers need to drive luxury cars because they are best for the travel they are committed to. This was in response to a Wheels24 article that detailed how our cadres spent R42m on their rides between 2014 and 2017 for their Audis, Porches and BMWs among others.

As of 2019 to 2022, Angie Motshekga pulled off her rising pass rates in a BMW 535i Sedan, a BMW 530, a Mercedes-Benz GLE 500 and an Audi Q7 TDI Quatro. 

As gender parities continue to worsen, the Women Youth and Disabilities office has heeded the call for change in three Audis — two of them Q5 and the A8 Quatro Tiptronic. This also includes a Mercedes-Benz GLC 250D just for control.

Cele has been coy with what cars he drives for safety reasons, leaving it a mystery on whether his taste in cars is loyal to the German brands sported by his colleagues or loyal to the American muscle behind his lavish hats.


Police minister Bheki Cele.
Police minister Bheki Cele.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Nothing brings people closer like food, the adage goes, for our cabinet of elected misters it seems a million might just do the trick. As hosts of one of the most prestigious dinner parties, guests of the 2022 soirée had to fork out R1.2m to rub shoulders with the MECs. But who can blame the tastemakers for having a high price tag when it has been alleged that R1.4bn was spent on catering, entertainment and accommodation when not in their prepaid homes?

According to a DA report published on TimesLIVE, the biggest spenders are the department of correctional services with R293m, human settlements and water and sanitation with R254m and basic education who round off the top three with R149m.

As this year’s Brics summit comes to a close, we are yet to see if the R500m will truly see South Africans exit Eskom’s dark age or if we will plunge to worse depths.

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