/ 18 May 2009

Transport minister accepts ‘thank you’ Merc

The Minister of Transport S’bu Ndebele has accepted a R1,1-million Mercedes Benz S500 from a group of contractors with contracts worth more than R400-million in the department, the Star reported on Sunday.

Vukuzakhe contractors threw a farewell party for Ndebele at the Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, apparently honouring the former KwaZulu-Natal premier for his contribution in creating a platform for small contractors to emerge.

Among other gifts Ndebele received was a herd of cattle.

However, Ndebele’s acceptance of the Mercedes was greeted with calls from the KwaZulu-Natal’s Democratic Alliance to return the vehicle and sighted that the gesture could be in conflict of interest.

But Ndebele defended the gesture by the contractors and said it was planned long before he and the contractors became aware that he would be appointed into the transport portfolio.

The Transport Department apparently between 1998 and 2008 invested about R10-billion in the Vukuzakhe programme, which has 29 140 registered contractors in KwaZulu-Natal. — Sapa