KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC and ANC Youth League chair Kwazi Mshengu has wasted hundreds of thousands of rand in tax payers’ money on car hire, because he did not want to drive the his predecessor’s Mercedes-Benz.
The Sunday Times reported that officials working for the MEC forged a letter from a car dealership advising against driving the one-year-old Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 provided to him.
The letter said the vehicle was so unsafe to drive that it could kill him, adding that it had a defect in its “intake capacitor” and had been repaired by a “non-approved repairer”.
“The vehicle does start and can be driven, however it is not recommended that this be done as the risk of a fatality due to the non-approved repair is high,” the letter said, among other things.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa confirmed that it was not authorised by the company or any of its agents.
According to the report, Mshengu refused to use the car because it belongs to political opponent, Mthandeni Dlungwane.
“The MEC is not using the car because it is road unworthy with possibilities of fatalities if continued to be used as confirmed by Mercedes-Benz SA,” the MEC’s spokesperson told The Sunday Times.
A source at Mercedes-Benz SA told the paper that the car was safe to drive.
Despite the Mercedes-Benz provided to him having only 40,200km on the clock and no mechanical problems, Mshengu has reportedly spent at least R500,000 on transport since he took office in May 2019 as he continues to be driven around in rented vehicles including a newer Mercedes-Benz GLE, which costs R103,776 per month, and a BMW X7.
President Ramaphosa recently stated that the government would crack down on the expensive habits of ministers including the imposition of upper limits on purchasing of cars, tariffs on private vehicles, and security upgrades for private residences.
The government published a revised guide for members of the executive in June 2019, which states that departments may only replace a motor vehicle purchased for a member if the vehicle has reached 120,000km or five years, or if the car experiences serious mechanical problems and is in poor condition.