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05 July 2011 at 15:16 - Posted by Anonymous

Mayor’s R1.3m splurge amid poverty


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A Limpopo mayor is about to spend R1.3 million to buy a Mercedes-Benz ML500 and an escort vehicle amid the grinding poverty in the Sekhukhune district municipality. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

A Limpopo mayor is about to spend R1.3 million to buy a Mercedes-Benz ML500 and an escort vehicle amid the grinding poverty in the Sekhukhune district municipality.

The council has approved the purchase and the process is already under way.

The area is impoverished, vastly mountainous with sparse road networks, and in other parts, villagers still share drinking water with wild animals.

Yet David Magabe insisted he needed a new car. Currently, he is driving a Mercedes-Benz ML315 and a Golf 5.

Mayoral spokesman Willie Mosoma said the old Mercedes had done 160 000km and should have been replaced at 120 000km.

The Golf 5 had clocked more than 300 000km, Mosoma added, and should also have been replaced at 120 000km.

Mosoma emphasised that it cost R1.3m to buy both cars. Initially, the municipality wanted to buy the ML V8 Mercedes-Benz, but Mosoma said the mayor had rejected the idea.

“When he saw the advert in the newspapers, he stopped (the procurement process),” said Mosoma.

He said Magabe had thought the ML V8 expensive and costly, and sent a wrong message to the impoverished community.

Mosoma said the decision to buy new vehicles had been approved by the council last month. The R1.3m budget had been allocated in the previous financial year.

He declined to comment on the condition of the current vehicles.

Previously, former president Thabo Mbeki declared Sekhukhune a disaster area.

Villages around Ga-Masemola are forced to buy water from those who own cars and donkey carts. Residents claim that this water is sourced from rivers and wells.

“In the same rivers, people bath and wild animals drink from there also,” said a Ga-Masemola resident, who asked not to be named.

The resident says they pay R20 for a drum that carries about 120 litres of water.

Victor Marutla, from the nearby Ga-Sefoka village, told a similar story. In his village of Ga-Sefoka, residents also rely on wells for survival. But now they face a new predicament: a women’s initiation ceremony is taking place near their source of water.

Marutla claimed the water pump in the area had been broken since early last year.

“It’s a problem now, because this winter, women initiates are bathing in that well,” he said.

Marutla added: “The municipality has the money. They are just sharing it among themselves with huge salaries.”

But Mosoma sees nothing wrong.

“How is the executive mayor going to climb up the mountain of Leolo village… with a Toyota Corolla?”

He said the municipality was aware of the problems facing the area.

“Our people know we have a shortage of water, but we are addressing it.”

He added that R455m had been set aside for water and infrastructure development. – The Star

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