Mayor’s Mercs gathering dust

2010-09-08 00:00

NEGLIGENCE in signing lease agreements for three executive German saloons to transport Mayor Edward Dladla has been the latest controversy to arise in uMngeni Municipality.

This follows allegations that large sums of money were used to lease an expensive vehicle that is now reportedly parked on the municipality’s premises and is never used.

A report in The Witness ’ s possession suggests that the municipality has paid some R136 000 to rent a Mercedes-Benz E300 since September 2009.

But Dladla has abandoned the vehicle, which attracts a monthly lease payment of R12 000, in favour of a less expensive Mercedes-Benz C200, which costs about R8 000 per month to lease.

His decision to save costs allegedly followed warnings about the poor state of his municipality’s finances by both finance and local government MECs and his deputy and chief financial officers.

The new E300 was supposed to replace an ageing E220, which has been Dladla’s official car for several years. The lease agreement for the E220 ends in April 2011, with the municipality still owing R68 000 on it, according to a source.

A source in the municipality said the council authorised for the E300 to be leased last year. A source at Garden City Motors in Pietermaritzburg, where the uMngeni Municipality sources its mayoral vehicles through the bank, said that once the lease agreement has been signed the vehicles are released from the dealer.

To the council’s surprise, the vehicle was never delivered, although monthly instalments are still being deducted from the ratepayers’ coffers.

“In July they came to the council to ask for authorisation for the C200, which was cheaper to lease.

“The new vehicle could not be placed under E300 agreement because they belong to different agreements,” said the source with the motor dealer.

The source added that when the lease for the C200 was authorised, the bank had already deducted R68 000 for the E300.

When contacted, Dladla confirmed the C200 has since been delivered to the municipality, although he does not use it.

He could not say whether it was parked in the municipality’s premises, adding that he is still using the older E220.

Dladla said a council meeting last week passed a resolution on the C200, which he could not elaborate on.

He said he does not have details of the leases of the C200 and E300 as they are handled by his officials.

Acting manager Sandile Buthelezi confirmed that the C200 is parked at the municipality’s premises but is not being used.

Buthelezi said that even though the agreement for the E220 has yet to expire, an agreement will be negotiated with the bank to cancel the outstanding instalments.

“The instalments were paid until July for the E300, and right now we are still trying to check how that money will be recovered and also if anyone was in the wrong in that regard.

“Right now, we have to pay R20 000 or even less for the vehicle,” Buthelezi said.

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