KZN car hire scandal: DA calls for urgent Special Sitting as PP report finds DoE acted unlawfully

14 Dec 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) notes the release of the findings of a Public Protector’s (PP) investigation into a luxury car hire scandal, involving KZN’s Department of Education (DoE), which rocked the province in 2019.

The probe has found that the DoE’s hiring of a luxury car for months on end for Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu was unlawful.

The DA welcomes the conclusion of this lengthy investigation. We have long maintained that the DoE is a cauldron of corruption. The findings of this investigation give credence to this opinion.

Of concern though, is the PP’s suggestion that the MEC was not responsible for this breach, as he was purely reliant on information given to him by his then Head of Department (HOD), Dr Enock Nzama. This is both disingenuous and disappointing. The MEC had to have known that he was being driven around the province in a hired car.

How Dr Nzama will be held accountable for his role remains to be seen. Certainly, all officials involved in hiring the vehicle must face the music for contravening the Treasury Regulations.

The DA is aware that there are other MECs and Ministers involved in a luxury car hire racket – involving the alleged monopoly of a single car hire company – with hundreds of millions of Rands of state money being wasted. We will be pursuing this matter early in the new year.

In accordance with the PP’s regulations, a hard copy of the report will be handed over to the DA at midday tomorrow at the Public Protector’s Office in Durban.

Then there is the matter of outstanding correspondence from the PP relating to whether the MEC has contravened the Ethics Act and the rules of the KZN Legislature. The DA is still waiting for this documentation. We will raise this with the relevant parties tomorrow.

There can be no doubt that this debacle is a matter of great public importance given the vast sums of KZN taxpayers’ money that have been spent unnecessarily.

The PP’s report – in its remedial actions – states that the Premier needs to, within 14 days of receiving the report, submit a copy thereof and any comments thereon to the provincial Legislature.

Given that the Legislature has now risen, the speaker needs to urgently convene a Special Sitting. This must include an Executive Statement on the matter so that it can be tabled and debated.

The Premier cannot brush this matter aside. He must now walk the talk and show that he is truly committed to full accountability as there are steps that he needs to take recommended by the PP.