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Service delivery takes backseat

The council soothed this announcement with the projection of the cost of the vehicle and said it will not cost more than R1.5 million.

The mayor is getting a brand spanking new car. This against the background of another weekend of water interruptions, no electricity, refuge not collected in the past three few weeks in some areas, potholes causing damages to vehicles and the Eskom account which is still not on par.
Tempers revved in the red when residents heard this announcement.
The council soothed this announcement with the projection of the cost of the vehicle and said it will not cost more than R1.5 million.

At a council meeting held on Thursday, September 1 the decision to purchase a new vehicle for the Executive Mayor Cllr Lindiwe Ntshalintshali was third on the agenda.
Municipal Manager, Mr Theo van Vuuren said there is nothing wrong with the Lexus she is driving now, but it has reached 123 000km and its motor plan was extended to 150 000km. Their projections are that the car will pass the 150 000km benchmark soon.

Van Vuuren defended the council’s decision and said in terms of council policy and the ministerial handbook on official vehicles cars should be replaced after it reached 150 000km. After the 150 000km is reached maintenance costs normally start to accelerate whilst maintenance plans are becoming nearly unaffordable and insurance especially in respect of its use for a political office bearer rise sharply.

“It is aging like all cars in line with its high utilisation. The only technical concern is that the car has low clearance and in the rural and some township areas, this car is not suitable to access all areas where it may be required. On replacement, this car will form part of the municipal vehicle assets and most likely we will be putting it on auction and the money so mobilised will go into our budget for other purposes,” he said.

The car was initially budgeted for in January under the capital budget.

“However this projection was based on the previous utilisation patterns by the previous mayor. The actual official demands on travelling, especially in respect of travelling to all parts of the municipality increased rapidly in the interest of community participation in government. This then may imply that we must replace the car prior to the next budget cycle,” Van Vuuren said.

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The Executive Mayor Cllr Lindiwe Ntshalintshali is looking for a new set of wheels.

He explained it is not uncommon that funding for specific items must be found in-between budget cycles.

“The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) specifies processes that have to be followed. The process the municipality will follow is to identify funds from votes and projects which are savings on those votes and projects. In this case, the administration identified savings on projects on the rollover budget from the previous years. In all cases these rollover projects have either been replaced and or have already been implemented. Therefore the savings on these projects will be written off. No funding was diverted from service delivery projects for this purpose,” Van Vuuren assured.

The rollover budget comes to R1 572 728. Money was left in the coffers from a town planning establishment R61 028, spatial planning R317 245, Empumelelweni Phase 3 R222 994, land purchase R230 555, upgrading and refurbish Rietspruit wastewater treatment plant R114 039, light duty vehicles R66 555, replace steel pipes Kamgewane R192 761, the upgrading and refurbishment of the dam pump station R67 551, construction of return ponds Emalahleni water R30 000, ride on scrubble R230 000 and the establishments of service centres R40 000.

In the same breath Van Vuuren said

“It is a well known fact that the municipality is under financial pressure. Therefore we need to meet all requirements in a constraint environment and have various cost curtailment measures in place. For example we are allowed to have eight members of the mayoral committee as full time councillors. To save cost the municipality has only appointed six. The municipality is also allowed to provide a mayoral house and a car for the municipal speaker. In both these cases the municipal leadership decided not to do so.”

The opposition party is not happy with this new development.

“With its sporadic water and electricity supply, shortage of housing and dilapidated road infrastructure, it goes without saying that if the municipal manager cared about the upliftment of eMalahleni, any money saved from developmental projects would be redirected towards other service delivery needs. It is morally wrong that the mayor can drive a brand new vehicle paid for with money intended for service delivery,” said Cllr Naritha Naidu, Democratic Alliance Caucus Leader in the Emalahleni Local Council.

She made her voice heard when she said,

“The municipality loses R40million every month due to fraudulent activities. If the municipality focussed its energy on cutting corruption within its ranks and ensuring that the R40million is used for the betterment of the municipality, our citizens would not have to sacrifice service delivery so that the mayor can be driven in a new car.”

She said the decision by the ANC to support the purchase of a new vehicle is an indication of the poor leadership in the organisation where self-interest is dictating decisions of government.
According to her, Van Vuuren is once again demonstrating how out of touch the ANC is with reality on the ground, placing politicians ahead of the needs of the people.

Van Vuuren had the last word,

“Like any other municipality and organisation, the logistical arrangements and enabling tools to allow the decision maker or head of an organisation to perform his or her functions are also important and is needed to allow effective service delivery to take place. It is a fallacy to argue that a replacement vehicle is prioritised above service delivery. You need both. In all municipalities, even those controlled by other parties, an appropriate vehicle for utilisation by the executive mayor, take place.”

There is still no indication what car the mayor has her eyes set on.
Van Vuuren only said that the make of the new car has not yet been decided upon,

“Like all projects a specification committee will determine the specifications and the market will be asked to provide tenders. The normal supply chain processes are being followed. The main specifications will deal with reliability, safety and ability to travel in the terrain we have in the total municipal geographical area.”

During a sitting of the Provincial Legislature on September 6, the DA asked that Van Vuuren be suspended immediately.

DA Whip in the Provincial Legislature, Bosman Grobler told the legislature in these tough economic times, where jobs are being lost, service delivery is at an all-time low and the municipality is experiencing a water crisis, this is unacceptable.

“This car should not be financed with money meant for service delivery. This current government should be ashamed,” Bosman concluded.

Only a 100km away from eMalahleni, the Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Solly Msimanga has put an immediate stop to all purchases or leasing of luxury cars for politicians and senior officials. No new luxury cars will be bought or leased for politicians, and if vehicles currently owned by Tshwane require replacement, sensible and low-cost vehicles will be procured.

“I will not allow public money to be spent on luxury cars, while our people struggle for services, houses and jobs. No more luxury cars will be bought or leased under my government. A Hyundai i20 or Toyota Corolla can do the same job for a politician as an expensive sedan,” Msimanga said.

The mayor has also uncovered the procurement of new luxury BMW vehicles for politicians concluded and paid out of public money by the previous administration. Msimanga has therefore decided to redirect these 10 new vehicles which have high-capacity engine power, when they are delivered, to the Tshwane Metro Police Department where they will serve in a newly-formed Anti-Hijack Unit.

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