Bling 4X4s for poor towns
Loyiso Sidimba, City Press
Johannesburg - A debt-ridden local municipality in Gauteng plans to spend R1.3m on two new luxury 4X4 vehicles for its mayor and speaker.
The Emfuleni local municipality, which includes Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark, recently issued tenders to buy a BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg for mayor Nomadlozi Hlongwane and speaker Msebenzi Gqelosha, both ANC councillors.
The cheapest Touareg retails for R577 000 and the X5 for R680 000.
The municipality’s debtors’ book is valued at about R1bn.
In November last year, the auditor general found that the municipality lost about R250m in unrecovered electricity and water income.
A number of investigations are currently under way into procurement processes at the municipality.
Hlongwane was the council speaker until the May local government elections.
Municipal manager Sam Shabalala said the vehicles were intended to improve service delivery and not for personal use.
Shabalala said the council voted unanimously to purchase the two vehicles at a cost of more than R30 000 monthly over 36 months and this was unlikely to affect its cash flow.
“We made a mistake in buying sedans [Mercedes Benz E-class] in the past,” Shabalala said. He said both purchases would be made in terms of the draft mayoral handbook.
The handbook says mayors may be supplied with any affordable vehicle on the local market (excluding special imports) once the municipality had considered its financial constraints.
Another councillor, who did not want to be named, said the decision to purchase the vehicles was a council resolution.
“They took the decision even though the municipality is heading to bankruptcy and running on overdraft.”