Kings, chiefs get vehicles worth R34m - and cattle too

Mbombela - Sixty traditional leaders, including two kings, in Mpumalanga have each been given a vehicle at a total cost of R34 million. 

They would also each receive four cows and one bull.

Premier David Mabuza had indicated in February the government was aware the old fleet needed replacing.

"The new fleet of vehicles will be provided to our traditional leaders, because their old fleet have passed their lifespan," safety and security MEC Vusi Shongwe said acting on the premier's behalf.

He said by providing the vehicles, the provincial government was recognising the value of "one of the oldest governance systems in the world" and the role of the house of traditional leaders in improving the lives of their communities.

Shongwe said Mabuza had also motivated for the funding of offices for traditional leaders this financial year and four offices were already being built.

Provincial house of traditional leaders chairperson Kgoshi Mathupa Mokoena said he staged a sit-in at Mabuza's offices on February 16 when he heard rumours chiefs would not get any vehicles this year.

"The Premier, who was in an [African National Congress] meeting, left the meeting and came to address me. He then promised vehicles will be bought for traditional leaders. Now, here they are," Mokoena said.

Department of agriculture spokesperson Bhekumuzi Nyathikazi said each chief had also been allocated four cows and a bull.

"The overall figure will be around 300, but they will be handed over in stages in the coming month," Nyathikazi said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused the ANC of providing the cars and cattle to gain votes from those living in traditional authorities.

"In a predominantly rural province like Mpumalanga‚ kings and chiefs wield considerable power. By giving them cattle, they are expected to remain the bedrock of ANC support in next year's local government elections, bringing their communities’ support with them," provincial DA member James Masango said.