Even a gift from an uncle in business should be scrutinised

Zukile Majova and Canaan Mdletshe

Zukile Majova and Canaan Mdletshe

The SACP and Cosatu have called on Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele to "do the right thing" and return the R1,1million luxury Mercedes Benz S500 he received as a gift from Vukuzakhe contractors .

The DA has also claimed that accepting the gift would be a conflict of interest.

SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka said Ndebele should know that "all politicians and public servants should strive to be like Caesar's wife by being above reproach".

"This is in so far as their relationship with the private sector is concerned.

"Things such as this gift for Ndebele, as a matter of principle, even a gift from one's uncle who is in business should be scrutinised very carefully.

"Based on this principle, Ndebele should not accept this gift."

ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said the league had yet to discuss the issue.

"We have not discussed the issue but we trust that Ndebele will do the right thing."

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the labour federation had always maintained that "politicians, MPs and ministers should try to live off their salaries and not accept gifts of any kind".

"Public officials should not accept gifts that could bring to question the integrity of the offices they hold."

Ndebele said he was waiting for word from President Jacob Zuma on whether or not to accept the gift.

Ndebele was given a Mercedes Benz S500 by the contractors, thanking him for his contribution to the emergence of small contractors in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ndebele said he was aware of a process in government of dealing with gifts.

"I have therefore advised President Zuma that I have received the gift of a Mercedes Benz S500 valued at R1 million.

"I also want to state that I do not have private financial or business interests with the Vukuzakhe contractor programme."

DA spokesperson Stuart Farrow said: "President Zuma is on record as saying that he is committed to a corruption-free administration.

"It is important for our ability to root out poverty and for the survival of our democracy that he stands by this promise, and that all members of cabinet also live by it," he said.

"The transport minister therefore must show that he is not beholden to Vukuzakhe contractors, and must return the Mercedes Benz."

Ndebele said that when he was appointed MEC for transport in KwaZulu-Natal in 1994 he established an emerging contractors' programme for road construction called Vukuzakhe.

He said the emerging contractors were at the time handling projects of about R50000.

"Currently, some manage projects from R10million up to R50million."

But Farrow said Vukuzakhe already had contracts with the Department of Transport worth R400million.

Ndebele was also given two cattle by taxi operators.By giving the car back, the minister will show that any contracts awarded to Vukuzakhe are not based on any form of favouritism," Farrow said.