Lindiwe Zulu did not lie to parliament: Public Protector

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu
Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu

The department of small business development did not spend R3.1-million on new cars for minister Lindiwe Zulu and her deputy but paid R1.8-million instead.

This was the finding of a report by the Public Protector‚ Busisiwe Mkhwebane‚ which was released on Wednesday.

DA MP Toby Chance said that Zulu had lied in the National Assembly on November 29 last year.

Chance alleged the department had bought cars valued at R3.1-billion. These included a Mercedes Benz E400 valued at R1.1-million for Zulu‚ a Lexus GS350 for the deputy minister valued at R900‚000 and a BMW 5 series valued at R1-million.

Chance asked Zulu about these cars after the department’s adjusted budget was revealed on November 22 which included the new cars.

Zulu told parliament on November 29 that she drove a Lexus valued at R580‚000.

“Even a child would know that a Lexus like that can’t cost a million rands.”

Zulu told the public protector her response was based on the cars the department was using at the time and that she had not seen the adjusted budget.

“According to Ms Zulu‚ when a budget is approved in Parliament‚ the document is not immediately available to the Minister‚ but is published on the National Treasury website to be accessed by the Department’s CFO and Accounting Officer. The document is then routed via submissions to the Minister’s office‚” the PP report said.

Zulu told parliament on March 15 this year the department bought a BMW 540i valued at R874‚876 for her and another BMW 540i valued at R944‚376 instead of the three cars initially budgeted for.

“The vehicles that were planned to be purchased were abandoned because of the cost of the Mercedes Benz E400 and the BMW X5 was also abandoned because of the price difference. The Lexus was not bought because it was not contained in the list of the budgeted vehicles …”

According to the ministerial handbook‚ departments can buy two official cars for the minister and deputy ministers respectively when a current car has 120‚000km in mileage or is older than five years.