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ANC mayor faces chop for hiring ritzy car without authorisation

Mayor splashed R324k on car rental within two months

Sebang Motlhabi (32), the mayor of Lekwa-Teemane, the municipality that serves the towns of Bloemhof and Christiana in North West, has been accused of having wild parties, behaving like a playboy and renting an expensive car while his municipality is going bankrupt.

However, Motlhabi has laughed off these allegations and has challenged his opponents to try to remove him.

He will face a motion of no confidence this week regarding the rental of a car that cost the struggling municipality almost R324 000 over just two months – and this despite the municipality having its own Toyota Fortuner to transport the mayor from place to place.

The rental agreement was allegedly not properly authorised and has since been terminated.

Albert Nel, council member for the Freedom Front Plus (FF+), which submitted the motion, asked for a secret vote in the hope that some of Motlhabi’s ANC comrades would support it.

 The ANC currently has seven of the 14 seats in the council and governs with the help of the Forum for Service Delivery, which has one council member. The EFF (four seats), the FF+ (one seat) and the DA (one seat) are on the opposition benches.

Nel says, 

We know we won’t be able to unseat the ANC, but we hope to at least get a better leader,

Motlhabi says there is no chance that his party members will vote against him.

Mpho Pilani, ANC North West Speaker, says he has yet to decide on the voting method, but after a previous vote for the appointment of the council’s acting chief financial officer, Motlhabi disclosed to the community at a funeral what his comrades had voted for. This put their lives in danger, says Pilani, who believes he must consider his colleagues’ safety.

According to documents on which Nel bases his motion, the car rental – which was initially for a Toyota Fortuner and then a Mercedes-Benz – included R32 000 for the repair of damage and R17 550 for a driver.

Nel says there was no money for such extravagance because service delivery does not exist in the town. That, he adds, is where the money should have gone.

The residents of Bloemhof have no water from 9pm each night to 4am the next morning. Power outages are the order of the day and the streets have more potholes than tarred surfaces.

“If you want to buy a car these days in Bloemhof, the surface of the streets determines what kind of vehicle you should buy,” says Nel. Only an SUV or a bakkie would last in those conditions.

Motlhabi, however, says the council’s Fortuner has clocked 400 000km and has broken down twice. He adds that he was actually opposed to renting a replacement, saying it made more sense to buy a new vehicle than to rent one.

He says,

They’re now getting me the recordings of the council meeting.

According to Motlhabi, the car rental was nevertheless properly authorised by the council’s accounting officer and he himself would like to see an investigation of all the expenses. He says the vehicles were never damaged, apart from a nick on a windscreen. It was the repairs to the council car that were mistakenly included in the expenses, he says.

He also agrees that payment for a driver is unheard of because his driver receives a council salary. However, he knows that the agent who handled the rental at one stage paid her own money into his driver’s account so that he could pick up the vehicle from the rental company. This was later claimed back from the council.

READ: Municipalities drowning in debt and unable to collect

Motlhabi says Nel is targeting him because he discovered that people were occupying the town’s golf course without a lease with the council.

According to Nel, these people were farmers who had spent R500 000 to refurbish the golf course, which was practically unusable.

They now want to enter into a lease and are prepared to set up braai facilities in the township in return.

“He [Motlhabi] knows that I’m in favour of this and that other councillors also support it, so now he’s bringing this up to get back at me,” says Nel.

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Should the no confidence vote be secret?

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