eMalahleni Local Municipality councillor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali has “put on hold” the decision to purchase a R1.5 million mayoral vehicle.
The municipality planned to use R1.5 million of a rollover budget intended to go towards developmental projects to buy a luxury car for her despite owing Eskom around R940 million.
The matter sparked public outrage and incited a service delivery protest in Tasbet Park.
“Her decision to postpone the purchase of the vehicle is purely based on putting the interest of the community first,” the municipality stated in a press release.
“This decision must be seen as a contribution towards cost curtailment and focusing resources on dealing with Eskom debt.”
In September last year, eMalahleni spokesperson Lebo Mofokeng had said the purchase for the mayor was justified because the mayoral car, a Lexus, had done 124 813km and its motor plan had expired.
According to the South African Local Government Association handbook, a mayoral car should be replaced after reaching 150 000km.
Spokesperson Kingdom Mabuza said this afternoon that the mayoral car mileage was more than 150 000km.
The municipality says that during September 2016, the administration brought the matter to Council to replace the current vehicle.
Following deliberations, the council resolved that normal procurement processes should be deployed in replacing the vehicle once it reached 150 000 km.
The municipality says all political parties participated in the decision and that a tender to this effect was subsequently published.
The Democratic Alliance laid charges of corruption against the municipal manager Theo van Vuuren after the tender was advertised.
DA caucus leader in the eMalahleni local council, Naritha Naidu, said that it was time for “those in the ANC [to be held] accountable for their blatant disregard for the people’s money”.
Yesterday the DA called for Auditor-General Thembekile Makwetu to investigate the gross mismanagement of funds at municipalities such as eMalahleni that owe Eskom money.
Ntshalintshali urged the DA and other parties to desist from making unfounded accusations on the matter.
“[Processes are] guided by regulations in terms of the Municipal Systems Act, and until there is clear evidence and substantiation of any wrongdoing the executive mayor will not act irrationally because of rumours,” she said.