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26 May 2009 15:34
Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele is waiting for the contractors to collect all the gifts they gave him, his adviser Dr Kwazi Mbanjwa said on Tuesday.
The presents included a R1,14-million Mercedes-Benz.
The decision by a group of about 30 KwaZulu-Natal contractors to present Ndebele with expensive gifts two weeks ago sparked huge criticism, prompting Ndebele to announce last Tuesday that he would return them.
On Tuesday, one of the contractors, Mandla Biyela said Ndebele had not yet returned the items.
Biyela said if Ndebele formally approached them to take back the gifts, they would. He, however, said they were not happy with Mbanjwa’s statement that the minister was waiting for the contractors to collect them.
Said Mbanjwa: “Our understanding is that they are the ones who are supposed to collect the gifts.
We discussed this issue when I spoke to them immediately after the minister announced that he would return the gifts.
Biyela said they were not happy that the gifts were being returned, saying the contractors had thanked Ndebele on behalf of all the people of the province.
“We will take the gifts, but we are not happy with it. Mbanjwa has promised to coordinate the return of the gifts on behalf of the minister.”
He said the contractors would have a meeting on Friday to discuss the matter.
The contractors are members of Vukuzakhe, a development programme established by Ndebele when he was still transport minister in KwaZulu-Natal.
On May 16 the contractors threw a lavish party for Ndebele in Pietermaritzburg to thank him for creating a platform for small contractors.
In addition to the car, Ndebele received cows, cutlery, a plasma TV and petrol vouchers. They were believed to be at Ndebele’s Pietermaritzburg home.—Sapa
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