Give up your Bling and house a Family

SA politicians can learn from Kenyans when it comes to spending excessive amounts of public money on cars, writes Marianne Thamm.

While KwaZulu Natal’s Economic and Tourism MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, claims around R383 618,07 in mileage for using his flashy Range Rover Sport for work purposes over a period of four months, Kenyan government officials have been given until the end of November to surrender their luxury vehicles in exchange for more appropriate “low capacity” replacements.

The luxury vehicles are to be sold off and the money used to resettle families who were displaced post-election violence.

Now how’s that?

And this in a country that is plagued by institutional corruption – Kenya that is.

Kenya was recently ranked 22nd in the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index while South Africa came in fifth behind Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles and Botswana. Sudanese telecommunications tycoon Mohammed Ibrahim introduced the Index in 2000 to recognise and promote democracy, service delivery, good governance and accountability.

It all started in June when Kenya’s Finance Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, announced that all official government vehicles that exceeded 1800cc were to be “withdrawn” as a “measure to control costs in a contracting economy”.

According to Kenya’s “Daily Nation”, the vehicles are to be surrendered by senior government officials including cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, permanent secretaries and provincial commissioners.

Under these “austerity measures” outlined by Kenyatta in his budget speech, all senior government officials will in future be entitled to only one official vehicle whose engine capacity did not exceed 1800cc.

Can you imagine getting our Big Spenders to exchange their “tools of the trade”, as the MEC’s spokesperson, Mthatheni Mabaso, described the over R800 000 Range Rover his boss drives, for a modest but stylish Volkswagen Passat (1600 or 1800cc) as Kenyatta and Northern Kenya Development minister Mohamed Elmi have opted to do?

So far, the newspaper reported, the Kenyan government had earned 170 million Kenyan Shillings (R17 million) from the sale of 488 cars surrendered by various departments.  Around 2000 vehicles have already been surrendered reducing the government’s fleet from 8900 to 6900 vehicles.

Just an aside, recently Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, KwaZulu Natal’s MEC for Health revealed that in some parts of the province life expectancy for women is 45.

According to the Association for Rural Advancement, 45 percent of the population in KwaZulu Natal is unemployed and 50 percent are considered to live in poverty.

And so while Mike Mabuyakhulu may justify his expenses saying he has done nothing illegal and that the ministerial handbook allows for it, it is the message that brand ANC sends out that matters the most.

But we all know that some of our Ministers and MEC’s believe it is their duty to drive among the poor in big flashy cars so that they (the poor) can be inspired by them and dream that one day they too will live in houses, have jobs, drive nice cars, have enough to eat, good health care and live to the ripe old age of 80.

I have spent a fair amount of time in rural KwaZulu Natal. Yes the terrain is tough and some of the villages are remote but there’s nothing that serious that a good old Isuzu won’t be able to handle. What’s great about Isuzu is their campaign to rid Angola and Mozambique of dangerous weapons caches and land mines. It is a wonderful endeavour that deserves support and is great for the brand.
 
But a Range Rover it will be and so all we can do in the meantime is offer a loud and collective “sies”.

Should South African politicians adopt this Kenyan practice? Share your thoughts and theories in the box below


- Women24

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