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DA demands answers on SOL 1

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The DA fails to understand why a process to replace the old mayoral vehicle did not commence sooner

UPGRADE: The Sol Plaatje mayors new Audi Q7. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE ISSUE regarding the controversial mayoral vehicle will be referred to the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) for further investigation.

The Democratic Alliance confirmed yesterday that it would refer the matter to MPAC after documentation received at a Sol Plaatje council meeting yesterday, confirmed that more than R1 million was spent on a combination of car maintenance on the old SOL 1, the former mayoral vehicle, as well as on car rentals for the city’s Executive Mayor Mangaliso Matika.

DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, pointed out yesterday that this money was in addition to the eventual purchase of an “expensive replacement vehicle”, an Audi Q7, which cost a further R1 million.

DA councillor, Christopher Phiri, requested the report on the mayoral vehicle more than a year ago. This, according to Louw, was in order to determine the urgency of the procurement of a new mayoral vehicle for Matika. In the meantime, a Q7 was purchased for Matika, under, according to the DA, “highly questionable circumstances”.

“The DA fails to understand why a process to replace the old mayoral vehicle did not commence sooner,” Louw said.

“We further need answers as to why a R43 000 rental payment was made for a vehicle for Matika, on a so-called ‘East London trip’. It also doesn’t make sense as to why it was necessary, on more than one occasion, to rent more than one vehicle for the mayor, on the same dates?”

He requested the Sol Plaatje municipality to properly explain why they had to re-advertise the tender for the new mayoral vehicle three times, “all the time incurring wasteful and fruitless expenditure”.

“In addition, they must tell us exactly why it was necessary for the mayor to have a panoramic sunroof and a tow bar on his mayoral vehicle and why a more cost effective vehicle was not adequate to meet the mayor’s needs.”

Louw added that it was increasingly clear that Sol Plaatje was not playing open cards with the DA about the past and present mayoral vehicle adding that the municipality had a lot of explaining to do.

“The DA strongly suspects that the entire process relating to the management and procurement of the past and present mayoral vehicles, has been manipulated over a matter of years, to benefit Matika and his allies,” Louw said.

“It is as a result of Sol Plaatje’s reckless attitude towards spending that Kimberley residents now face unreasonable tariff hikes.”

He added that the party would continue to probe the matter until it got all the answers.

“The ANC cares more about living the high life than it does about ordinary citizens.”

At yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting is was pointed out that previously there was no policy for the procurement, use, disposal and replacement of the mayor or the speaker’s official vehicle. The policy has since been developed although it must still be considered by the Finance Committee.

It is recommended that the official vehicle be replaced, however, if it reaches a minimum mileage of 150 000km, the vehicle is damaged/written off, it has mechanical problems and is continuously in the workshop, or it is no longer suitable for the transportation of the Speaker or Mayor.

It was stated that the meeting that there were four previous attempts to procure a replacement vehicle, with the fourth being successful. The first two attempts were in 2015 and then again in 2016. It was reported that the withdrawals of the bids were believed to have been to do with funds, uncertainty around the matter and then with the more recent bids with the upcoming elections and the possible change in the Executive Mayor.

The vehicle specification was for a SUV and not for a specific brand and bids were received for Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW Touareg and Audi from various bidders.

According to a report submitted by the CFO, Lydia Mahloko, it had been necessary to hire a replacement vehicle while the official vehicle either had a breakdown or was not available for use.

A total of R456 199 was spent on hiring a vehicle in 2017/18 until the official vehicle was delivered on 22 February.

Meanwhile the maintenance costs, including the service and repairs on the old vehicle, which were done by Gariep Motors, cost
R322 043 in the 2016/17 financial year and R99 352 in the 2017/18 financial year to date.