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Row over minister's Merc

2009-05-18 15:18

Michael Hamlyn

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has urged the new Transport Minister, S'bu Ndebele, to give back the million-rand Mercedes he was given by a company which has business dealings with his department.

Stuart Farrow, reappointed last week as the DA's transport spokesman, said on Monday: "It is important that a cabinet minister, who is in a position of enormous influence, be completely free from any conflict of interest situation."

Ndebele was reported as saying that he was given the car by a transport company in KwaZulu Natal, as a going-away present at the end of his term in office in the province. No one knew at the time that he would be appointed transport minister in the national government, and he undertook to register the gift in the register of interests.

Farrow said that President Zuma is on public record as saying that he is committed to a corruption-free administration, and he added that
it is vitally important for our ability to root out poverty and for the survival of our democracy that he stand by this promise, and that all
members of cabinet also live by it.

"The transport minister therefore must show that he is not beholden to Vukuzakhe contractors, and Mr. Ndebele must return the Mercedes Benz
gift they gave to him," Farrow said.

"This will help to give us confidence that any future contracts awarded to Vukuzakhe are based on their ability to deliver, not on the
consideration of this gift."

Pointing out that Vukuzakhe already has contracts with the Department of Transport worth more than R400m, Farrow insisted that it will not be enough for the minister to declare this gift in the register of members interests. By giving the car back, the minister will show that any contracts awarded to Vukuzakhe are not based on any form of favoritism.

"Moreover by refusing to give back the car, the minister will be acting in contravention of the Executive Members Ethics Act of 1988
which requires cabinet members to 'at all times act in good faith and in the best interest of good governance'."

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