The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) is set to purchase an almost R700 000 vehicle for mayor Luleka Gubula, a decision the DA called a slap in the faces of residents awaiting service delivery.
Gubula has been using her own vehicle since July this year.
Information about the purchase of a mayoral vehicle was brought to light by DA councillor and caucus leader in the EMLM, Lindy Haggard, who posted a copy of a R1 031 379.76 quote dated August 18 for a Toyota Landcruiser Prado.
The quote references personal details of a former ANC councillor, Florence Duda.
Haggard indicated that the DA had voted in council against the local authority’s unfunded budget, which approved R700 000 for a mayoral vehicle at the end of May.
“EMLM is on the verge of bankruptcy and is struggling to keep the lights on, yet our mayor is expecting to get a million rand vehicle to boost her ego. Gubula is infatuated with self-glory, even at the expense of the community. It is a slap in the face of Enoch Mgijima residents who have been waiting for service delivery. All this proves that Gubula is not fit to lead.
“The former councillor whose name and contact number appear on the quotation knows nothing about it and was shocked to hear that her name was on a document found on the municipal manager’s desk.”
Haggard questioned the urgency to purchase the mayor an expensive car when service delivery was at a standstill in some areas.
“The non-payment to creditors is of grave concern, while service providers do not want to grant the EMLM further credit or supply goods and services. This results in municipal vehicles standing idle, with little to no electrical resources available.”
She said residents and businesses in Komani, Ezibeleni, Hofmeyr, Whittlesea, Sada, Molteno, Tarkastad and Sterkstroom regularly experienced electricity outages, sometimes for days on end.
“There is no money to do infrastructure maintenance or the necessary electrical upgrades, and yet our mayor wants a new vehicle. The ANC-run municipality has failed to stick to the terms of the Eskom payment agreement as they currently owe the entity R400m. Refuse collection in the outlying areas is grinding to a halt as only two trucks out of the fleet are currently in running order.
“The issue around the current mayoral car needs to be tabled at the next council meeting to clarify what happened to it and whether it can be repaired.”
The former ANC councillor, Duda, said she was shocked when she learned that she was a customer at Toyota and for a vehicle costing more than a million rand.
“I was last a councillor in 2015 and I am unemployed now. I do not understand how my personal details would be reflected in a quote requested by the municipality to purchase a mayoral vehicle. If they try to dirty my name with their corrupt ways, I will claim it back.”
The issue has been a hot topic on social media.
Social media user, Michelle Schwartz De Klerk, who commented on Haggard’s post about the matter, said the purchasing of the vehicle was shocking. “I wonder if the mayor has ever gone a day without food, electricity and water, let alone two solid weeks without water and electricity that we had to endure while trying to run a hostel. As the saying goes ‘You cannot build your happiness on someone’s misfortune.’ I pray this is stopped dead in its tracks. Thank you for sharing.”
Resident Nkosikho Mdube asked whether the mayor did not think it was important to rather purchase important material that was needed to deliver services first than to buy a car. “I would rather the municipality subsidise her fuel and she continues using her car if she is serious about delivering services to the people. This would show us as residents that she is not in the position for the money and the benefits of being a mayor but to serve the people. I understand that mayors get cars but a selfless one that is already using her own car, and knows the financials of the institutions would prioritise other matters that are meaningful.”
However, EMLM spokesman Lonwabo Kowa gave clarity on the mayoral vehicle matter after it trended on social media at the weekend.
He said the information posted online was incorrect and that the municipality was in the process of purchasing a vehicle for the mayor costing R682 000 and not the amount reflected in the quote.
“The process to purchase the vehicle is above board and has not been completed yet. The price being used in the online message going around is a quote and not an invoice or proof of payment. The budget for the purchasing of a mayoral vehicle is set at a maximum price of R700 000 which was approved by council and is in line with the National Treasury regulations.”
He indicated that the mayor was currently using her own vehicle to perform her duties after the municipal vehicle was damaged to a point where it was no longer economical to repair it.