By Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The purchase of a R2,3 million luxury Mercedes-Benz S600L (V222) at a cost of R2,3 million including R52,000 in extras such as a panoramic sunroof and entertainment centre is the latest indication that the ANC-led Free State Provincial Government under the premiership of Ace Magashule is turning the province into a Banana Republic.
This latest spending spree comes merely three weeks after Premier Magashule delivered six brand new Mercedes-Benzes, at a cost to the public purse of R3,2 million, to Free State Traditional Leaders, in a bid to extend his patronage network.
The justification for the purchase of this latest Mercedes-Benz S600L in that the vehicle will be used by foreign diplomats and politicians when visiting the Free State just does not make sense. Foreign diplomats and politicians visiting the Free State would be far more impressed by effective and accountable governance, the rule of law and an environment conducive to investment opportunities, and not by a flashy luxury car.
In fact, nothing screams Banana Republic more loudly than transporting foreign dignitaries in a luxury Mercedes Benz while the people of the Free State have to suffer poor service delivery, poverty and unemployment. Such a vehicle reflects a government that has poor priorities and will abuse foreign investment and aid for patronage and personal purposes.
The provincial government is in fiscal denial over its serious cash flow problems, specifically relating to the departments of Education, Health and Social Development. In addition, the Free State is currently experiencing the worst drought in decades while the province have to contend with a water crisis brought about by the ANC-led government’s non-existent water management capabilities and deteriorating water infrastructure as a result of a lack in maintenance.
This R2,3 million could have gone a long way towards alleviating the impact of the drought and water crisis in our hard-hit rural communities.
The people of the Free State will continue to suffer under an uncaring government who are more concerned about impressing foreign politicians and diplomats, than about delivering effective services, sound governance, and creating an environment conducive towards investment.
The DA calls on the people of the Free State to reject the continued abuse of power and public funds by the ANC and their cronies, come election day next year, and to vote for the DA who is the only party in government that delivers for all, that drives back unemployment, that uplifts people from poverty and that empowers individuals to become proud, productive and successful citizens.