‘BRIBED’ WITH CARS AND COWS
Mpumalanga chiefs accepting 240 cattle and R34m in luxury vehicles has the opposition crying foul
All traditional leaders are equal, but some are more equal than others – depending on where they live. The North West provincial government has not had the cash this year to buy cars for its local chiefs, and the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government says it only reimburses them for travelling outside of their areas of jurisdiction.
But opposition politicians in Mpumalanga are fuming after the provincial government bought 240 cattle and spent R34 million on luxury cars for their 60 traditional leaders. They are complaining that the ANC government’s gesture was little more than a bribe to win support ahead of next year’s local government elections.
The provincial agriculture department gave Mpumalanga’s traditional leaders – two kings and 58 chiefs – three Nguni heifers and a bull each.
The department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) bought Mercedes Benz ML 500s for the two amaNdebele kings, Makhosonke II and Mabhoko III, and Toyota and Ford 4x4s for the chiefs.
The chiefs are delighted with their new bling, but some believe they should have received more.
Inkosi Mandlenkosi Mlambo II of Mbuzini, near Komatipoort, said government’s gesture was welcome.
“As traditional leaders, we work with every government at a given time. Now we’re working with the ANC. This donation has been long overdue because we’ve never enjoyed the same benefits as politicians. So we’re grateful to the Mpumalanga government leadership,” he said.
“The donation of cattle is also a good thing the government has done. However, I believe we deserve more because farmers have been getting more assistance than traditional leaders.”
Inkosi Philemon Nkosi of Ebutsini, outside Emanzana, said: “The ANC government has done well for us and I personally support the party and will vote for it.”
DA provincial leader James Masango said he could not understand why government decided to give cattle to a few individuals when there were thousands of farmers in the province. The vehicles, Masango said, were too expensive and luxurious.
However, he did admit that it was necessary for traditional leaders to receive cars.
“Our concern is that cattle are not tools of trade. This donation and the timing is worrying … it is clearly a bribe for the ANC’s support in the local government elections,” said Masango.
“By giving them cattle, they are expected to remain the bedrock of ANC support in next year’s local government elections, bringing their communities’ support with them.”
Inkosi Mandlenkosi Mlambo II said: “I cannot criticise or blame the DA for their argument on this matter ... it is their right to do so.”
Agriculture department spokesperson Zanele Shabangu did not respond to questions about the cattle.
Cogta spokesperson George Mthethwa said the allegation about the bribes was “baseless”, and the car purchases were based on a 2010 Cabinet resolution and were in line with the Mpumalanga Traditional Leadership and Governance Act and the National Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.
“The vehicles are the tools of trade for the traditional leaders. As such, each traditional leader signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that clearly spelt out the roles, obligations and responsibilities in terms of accounting for the tools of trade. The MOU further articulated the monitoring role of the department in ensuring that the car is used for the intended purpose,” he said.
EFF provincial spokesperson Cyril Chuene said government could have done better by involving traditional leaders in its decision making, particularly in municipalities, and increasing their offices’ administration grant, which now stands at R120 000 a year.
“The cattle and cars are not real empowerment to the institution of traditional leadership, but a pure attempt to win political favour by the ANC government. These leaders are frustrated by government’s lack of support and lack of service delivery, such as for water in their communities,” said Chuene.
Free State's King Thokoana Mopeli is due to get a Mercedes-Benz E250, while North West traditional leaders received Ford Ranger SUVs last year
... AND BULLS