Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Vincent Magwenya, says the President has withdrawn the amendment to the Ministerial Handbook, pending a review.
Magwenya was briefing media to provide an update on President Ramaphosa’s public engagements programme for the week and to address relevant topical issues of public and media interest.
The amendment, which has caused a public outcry, provides for the free provision of electricity and water for Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
Another amendment also in the spotlight is the removal of the limit on how many staff members can be employed in Ministers’ private offices.
“President Ramaphosa has ordered the withdrawal process of the Presidential minute on the Executive Members’ Guide, commonly known as the Ministerial Handbook, for 2022. The withdrawal will give effect to the 2019 version of the guide, pending a review.
“President Ramaphosa acknowledges and appreciates the public sentiments on the matter. However, the impression created that the amendments were conducted in secrecy and to avoid public scrutiny is false,” Magwenya said.
Magwenya said the President has heard and listened to the public aversion to the changes in the handbook.
“The President has listened. The President appreciates the public outcry in the context of socio-economic pressures South Africans are facing. We can take heart in the fact that the President has ordered the withdrawal of this. The President is heartened by the fact that we have an active citizenry, that, on an ongoing basis, participates in our democratic processes [and] sometimes, vehemently so, disagrees with decisions of government.
“I think we can take heart in the fact that the President has ordered the withdrawal of this notice that gave effect to this guide, simply because he is attuned to the challenges that South Africans are faced with on a daily basis,” Magwenya said
He emphasised that the “intention behind the amendments was not a nefarious one”.
“The intention was to try and find some form of balance between what Ministers could afford versus some of the costs that they have. Be that as it may, we can no longer debate that outcry and the merits of the outcry, [save] to say let’s accept what the public has given us as a message and let’s conduct a necessary review that will ensure that the next version of the guide is aligned to not only to the public’s expectations but to the realities that many South Africans face,” he said.