Benz rules in Limpopo

Mercedes-Benz’s slogan – The best or nothing – is truly alive in Limpopo, where seven of the province’s 11 top politicians are being driven around in the famous German brand thanks to taxpayers. The seven MECs have a penchant for the ML SUV series, which has since been rebranded to GLE.

These seven cars, as well as a Jeep, a Lexus, a VW Touareg and a Range Rover, have cost the provincial government R8m, and include extras such as metallic paint, sun roofs, tinted windows and maintenance plans.

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle posed questions about the cars to various provincial departments and Premier Stan Mathabatha’s office. The responses reveal the following about cars bought between the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years:

. Mathabatha is chauffeured in a superfast R1.2m 6.4 litre Jeep Grand Cherokee. Extra features include brilliant black paint for R62 360, R3 070 for smash and grab film, and a R12 443 extended maintenance plan;

. Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba rides in a R1.2m, 3 litre V6 Range Rover Sport, with R87 872 in extras including “indus silver” metallic paint for R4 900, ebony premium headlining for R5 600, alloy sparkle silver wheels for R14 300, double locking for R10 000, noble-plated paddle shift for R600, a rear-view camera for R8 700, an electric deployable towbar costing R14 400, and VPS paint protection film and smash and grab film worth R18 972;

. Agriculture MEC Joyce Mashamba rolls in a R941 513 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Blue Tec with R16 131 in extras, including strobe lights, a blue dash light, and smash and grab film. The car was bought when she was appointed as social development MEC;

. Transport MEC Makoma Makhurupetje gets around in a R1.2m Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 with R47 008 in extras, including a panoramic sun roof, VPS paint protection film, and smash and grab film;

. Economic development MEC Charles Sekoati is driven around in a R1.17m VW Touareg 4.2 TDI executive, with an added four-year maintenance plan worth R93 939;

. Education MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe pulls up in a R1.11m Mercedes-Benz GLE 350D when he inspects schools around the province;

. Human settlements MEC Jerry Ndou cruises around in a R740 848 Mercedes-Benz ML 400 with R86 008 in extra features;

. Social development MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana gets from A to B in a R740 848 Mercedes-Benz ML 400 with R86 008 in extras; and

. Sports and Culture MEC Onicca Moloi gets by in a R1.2m Mercedes-Benz GLE 350D. There are no extra features.

Smalle said the DA wanted Mathabatha to resign.

“He should have led by example and refrained from purchasing an expensive vehicle with extra features that the DA finds irrelevant.”

He said the cars were bought using taxpayers’ money, despite residents getting inadequate service delivery from his administration.

“We are of a view that Mathabatha and his cabinet failed to put the people of Limpopo first when purchasing these expensive vehicles.”

He said Mathabatha and his executive failed to adhere to the Ministerial Handbook’s directives on spending on cars.

The DA lauded finance MEC Rob Tooley, who bought a Toyota Lexus RX EX for R783 560 with no extras.

Tooley said he did not know if Mathabatha or his MECs acted improperly when they got their cars.

“I can tell you that MECs have different packages, which will determine the value of their cars. They are supposed to be in line with the Ministerial Handbook,” Tooley said.

“Some had to change cars or extend maintenance plans after reaching 120 000km, so there are a lot of factors involved to look into.”

Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said he hoped the DA was not politicking ahead of next year’s general elections.

He said Mathabatha and his executive council would not have broken the handbook’s rules.

“Should that happen, the matter will be looked into thoroughly and we will see what action is taken.”

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