Parliament can't change Ministerial Handbook

Lindiwe Sisulu says it is up to the Presidency to make changes to the controversial Ministerial Handbook.

Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Public Service and Administration Department says Parliament does not have the mandate or power to change the controversial Ministerial Handbook.

In a written parliamentary question, Congress of the People (Cope) President Mosioua Lekota asked Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu if the National Assembly can revise the handbook, which has been widely criticised for being too vague and giving government ministers too much power.

Sisulu says there is no role envisaged for the National Assembly to revise the ministerial handbook.

She says this is the responsibility of the executive, meaning the Presidency.

She explained in her written answer, that Parliament's main function is to pass legislation.

Members of Parliament and other public representatives therefore do not have the power to amend the contentious handbook.

Various quarters, including the Public Protector, have suggested the handbook be changed to set standards relating to, among other things, accommodation for ministers.

Many believe government officials have been abusing their privileges.

The Ministerial Handbook has frequently been used to justify questionable expenditure by public officials.

Recently, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was found guilty of violating the ethics codes.

This related to a R150,000 Switzerland trip for her two children and their au pair.

She said she was ill informed and promised to pay back the money.