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No 90-second showers for luxury-loving Bongo

'The joke is he didn't want to take a bucket bath in Cape Town'

18 February 2018 - 00:00 By THABO MOKONE

State Security Minister Bongani Bongo is living it up at Cape Town's five-star Taj hotel because he is unhappy with strict water restrictions at his official house in the city.
Bongo apparently insisted on checking into the Cape Town branch of the international hotel brand three weeks ago, justifying his move by complaining about the tight water restrictions at his official residence, which include a 90-second time limit when taking showers.
Government officials said Bongo used the Taj hotel as his base in Cape Town. A standard luxury suite with views of Table Mountain or the sea costs at least R4000 a night and a presidential suite costs around R60000 a night.
It is not clear whether Bongo is occupying a standard room or a suite, but his stay at the hotel is a snub to the government's belt-tightening measures, let alone the Western Cape's water crisis.Bongo yesterday admitted to staying at the Taj at a cost of R7000 a night and claimed he would be paying from his own pocket.
His bill should be about R147000, excluding extras.
"There is a joke that he didn't want to take a short bucket bath when he was in Cape Town - like everyone else," said one of the officials.
Guests at the hotel are requested to take 90-second showers, but are not penalised if they don't adhere to this rule.
The government officials also claimed that Bongo's bodyguards were spending time at the upmarket hotel as he preferred to have his security detail with him around the clock.
Other officials said he has been holding meetings with ANC MPs and deputy ministers at the glitzy hotel.
Hours before the state of the nation address, the Sunday Times team spotted Bongo mingling at the Taj lobby, wearing shorts and flip-flops while carrying his signature Louis Vuitton handbag.
An MP serving on parliament's joint standing committee on intelligence, who asked not to be named because members of the committee are sworn to secrecy, said Bongo's conduct was "ridiculous".
The MP said he would insist that Bongo be liable for the hotel bill as it amounted to wasteful expenditure, since the minister has been allocated an official residence in Cape Town.Bongo, said the MP, could not be allowed to flout government austerity measures and he was not above water restrictions.
"He must pay it out of his own pocket ... He must be called to book. It's ridiculous since when is he above other citizens in this city?
"It's absolute nonsense, in light of the utterances of the new president, that he wants to run a clean administration. It's clear to me that this guy is not fit to be a minister."
Bongo yesterday claimed that the Department of Public Works was yet to allocate an official house in Cape Town to him, even though he was appointed five months ago.
He claimed that he had been using his old house in Pelican Park, the parliamentary village, for the past few months but this week decided to check into the Taj at R7000 a night.
The houses in Pelican Park, which are meant to be used by MPs, are not as cushy as those allocated to ministers - and backbenchers are often quick to move out of the MPs' villages when promoted to the cabinet.
"During this period I use[d] my old accommodation in Pelican Park house No38. This past week I stayed for three days at the Taj, the cost of which is around R7000 per night before discounts owing [to] club membership."
Several officials, however, said Bongo has been staying at the hotel for three weeks.
He claimed he would foot the bill...

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