Education MEC’s Merc mess

2019-11-11 16:16
Kwazi Mshengu. (Jabulani Langa, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)

Kwazi Mshengu. (Jabulani Langa, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)

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KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, who is embroiled in a car hire scandal after claims that he has squandered thousands of rands in taxpayers’ money on hiring a car he does not need, is fighting to clear his name.

Mshengu’s spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said on Sunday the MEC “wants to get to the bottom of this matter and wants answers from all the officials who have been involved in the decision to hire the car”.

Mshengu replaced his political rival Mthandeni Dlungwane as Education MEC in May.

In an unwelcome birthday present for Mshengu, who turned 35 on Saturday, the Sunday Times reported that his officials forged a letter from Mercedes-Benz saying that his predecessor’s year-old Mercedes GLE 350 was not roadworthy, in order to justify hiring another vehicle. Mshengu was for “security” reasons apparently reluctant to use the perfectly functional official vehicle that had been used by Dlungwane.

The letter, which was made to look like it had been authored by representatives from Mercedes-Benz, stated that faults on the vehicle could result in a fatal accident. “The vehicle does start and can be driven, however it is not recommended that this be done as the risk of a fatality due to the non-approved repair is high,” the letter allegedly stated.

When confronted with the letter, the company distanced itself from the document, the Sunday Times reported.

Mthethwa, who initially cited the letter as a reason for the MEC’s decision not to use the Mercedes which the department had purchased for Dlungwane, on Sunday did not deny that the letter might have been forged.

“If there has been such a thing then it will come out as the MEC has demanded to be fully briefed about this matter,” he said.

Since taking over as MEC in May, Mshengu has reportedly spent R500 000 on car hire, with one of the vehicles he had hired costing the department more than R100 000 per month.

Mshengu and Dlungwane both come from the ANC Moses Mabhida region where the party is struggling to address internal divisions.

Once bound by their support for former president Jacob Zuma, Dlungwane and Mshengu, who is also the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) provincial chairperson, are now said to belong to rival ANC camps.

Sources within the ANC in the region said relations between the two leaders turned sour during the build-up to last year’s party provincial conference where most of Zuma’s prominent supporters lost support within the organisation.

“It is a known fact that the Dlungwane camp was defeated at the conference. The camp is blaming Mshengu for persuading ANCYL members to turn against the Dlungwane camp at the conference,” a source said on Sunday.

Despite assurances by ANC leaders that the party was now united, there have been a number of incidents indicating that the organisation remains divided.

Last week, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka allegedly had a gun pointed at him by another ANC leader during a meeting at the ANC provincial offices in Durban.

In September the ANC suspended several of its councillors in the region after they organised protest marches against the current party leadership.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kwazi mshengu
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