RESPONSE TO CITY PRESS

This response is submitted at length, to ensure that the journalist at City Press fully understands the correct context of this matter. It is important to debunk the issue and allegations always made that Ministers enjoy lives of luxury at whatever expense.As a matter of fact, both the Minister and the department saved a lot of funds in managing the purchase of cars. The narrative gives a full account that actually illustrates in sequence of events that only one car was purchased for use by Minister Molewa since taking office as a Cabinet Minister in May 2009. The response to the parliamentary question opted to focus on the issue of the “offer to use stockings”. This narrative also serves to clarify that matter of offer to use stockings. The narrative also serves to illustrate the difficulties faced by Ministers in the execution of their duties and how matters of this nature are always blown out of proportion by the media. Minister Molewa joined the national Department of Social Development in 2009 to replace the then Minister, Dr Zola Skweyiya. Upon her appointment she inherited two vehicles from her predecessor, an old Mercedes Benz in Cape Town and another Mercedes Benz for her Pretoria use. She used both cars until she was appointed Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in November 2010, to replace Minister BuyelwaSonjica. Minister Sonjica left behind a BMW 750i sedan that she used in Pretoria and another BMW 530i in Cape Town. The BMW 750i was a leased car from Kgwerano Financial Services while the BMW 530i sedan was a department owned car. Both vehicles had been acquired during the time of Minister Lindiwe Hendricks who was Minister Sonjica’s predecessor. Minister Molewa took over these two vehicles when she joined the department in November 2010. Minister Molewa continued to use the Social Development’s Mercedes Benz for the Cape Town area and used former Minister Sonjica’s BMW 750i which was a leased car for Pretoria. The BMW 530i in Cape Town remained for a while as she

continued to use the old Mercedes that she brought from Social Development.

It was during this period of use that the vehicle experienced several breakdowns, including the one that happened when she was being driven from the Cape Town Airport to Parliament, where she offered one of her several pairs of stockings which she had in her possession, to fix a damaged fan belt. However, the stockings were not used. The Protector/driver managed to acquire assistance from one of his colleagues who rescued her with another Minister’svehicle also heading to the same meeting. An impression has been created that the stockings offered were used to fix the car and that these could have been the ones she was wearing. We want to place on record that the stockings she offered were her spare pair as she carries with her more than one. By the time Minister Sonjica left, the department had already ordered a new Mercedes Benz E350 to replace the BMW 530i that was being disposed of, but the car had not been delivered by the time she left. It was delivered soon after Minister Molewa took office and she therefore decided to transfer it to Pretoria to replace the BMW 750i, the lease of which had lapsed. She therefore used the Mercedes Benz E350 for Pretoria and the BMW 530i after returning the Social Development’s car and the leased BMW 750i. She thought it wise to return the leased car because of its expenses and to bring the Mercedes Benz to Pretoria to avoid buying a new car at that time. Meanwhile, the BMW 530i in Cape Town also reached the stipulated five years and needed replacement. The Mercedes Benz was taken to Cape Town to replace the BMW 530i, as it was initially the plan.The current car was bought earlier this year, and this is the only car that was ever bought for use by Minister Molewa since joining national government in 2009. In essence, therefore, her current car replaces the BMW 750i that was a leased car, which she should have replaced in 2011 when it was returned to Kgwerano Financial Services. The new car is a BMW 750i 2013 model, worth R1 043 481.58. In comparison, if a similar vehicle would have been leased from Kgwerano Financial Services it would have cost the tax payer R 1 460 873.00 plus 30% residual, with no ownership to Government at the end of the five year term.

It must be noted that according to the Ministerial Handbook, read with the relevant procurement prescripts, the Minister qualifies for a car worth R1,4 million and in buying this car, a saving of about R350 000 was generated. The purchase of the vehicle was done according to the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook.

Mandla Mathebula Spokesperson for the Minister

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