‘BRIBED’ WITH CARS AND COWS

Mpumalanga chiefs ac­cept­ing 240 cat­tle and R34m in lux­ury ve­hi­cles has the op­po­si­tion cry­ing foul

CityPress - - Front Page - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

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.

BLING

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

PHOTO: KIRSTEN OLIVER

... AND BULLS

Nguni cat­tle

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