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GOVT PURCHASES FLEET OF BMWS

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MBABANE – Government has confirmed knowledge of a fleet of BMW model vehicles.


Some of the vehicles will be used as escorts, it was gathered. Yesterday, social media was abuzz with images of trucks ferrying the vehicles, purported to have been bought by government.


Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane last evening confirmed knowledge of the vehicles.
It had been brought to Simelane’s attention that this publication was pursuing the story of the BMW vehicles said to have been purchased by government to be used as escort cars. He was asked if he had any knowledge of the cars and how many were they in number. In response, Simelane simply said, “Yes, I know about the vehicles in question. I would not be sure of the number but the General Transport Manager at CTA should be able to assist you with the exact number.”


Central Transport Administration (CTA) General Transport Manager Washington Khumalo said he heard about the cars, informally though.
When asked if these were government cars, Khumalo said he couldn’t comment on the matter because it was not his place to do so. He did, however, confirm that the cars were not in the country as he was from the Ngwenya Border Gate, when contacted at around 8:30pm yesterday.


“As we speak, I’m from the Ngwenya border post to verify if indeed the cars did enter the country because I also saw the pictures making rounds. I can safely say that there were no fleet of BMWs reported to have entered the country,” he said.  Sources claimed that a large number of BMWs would be delivered in the country and they would be used as escorts. They also claimed that government did not have the money to buy the cars upfront so it signed a letter of commitment but the claims could not be verified.  A picture of two trucks carrying the BMWs was spotted in an unidentified area.


Khumalo said the circulating pictures could be photo-shopped as there was no fleet of BMW cars that entered the country yesterday.
Meanwhile, he is known as the most forthcoming Cabinet minister on addressing issues.
However, yesterday Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg successfully dodged questions on whether government had just purchased a fleet of vehicles as there were stories and pictures  circulating on social media.


Spree


Siphocosini MP Mduduzi Matsebula had asked the minister if government had been on a car shopping spree recently.  In response, the minister said it was a very difficult question for him to answer and asked the Members of Parliament if he could table a report on Monday with the proper responses instead of addressing the issue in the House.


This happened during the debate of the Ministry of Finance second quarter budget performance report by the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee, which was chaired by Mpolonjeni MP Jacob Siwela.  Deputy Speaker Phila Buthelezi said he would not ask about the car shopping spree, but the shopping spree which government seemed to be on.


Meanwhile, on the loans Rijkenberg said there were still more loans which government would apply for.
He said the borrowing would continue as things had to get worse before they got better.  He said among these loans would be a E2 billion loan which would be used to pay arrears, particularly those owed to suppliers. He explained that government had finally found one institution that was willing to loan it about E2 billion to pay suppliers.


Rijkenberg said initially they had engaged five institutions, but had settled for one and just last month, a team was in London to finalise the about 140 pages loan application.  He said the draft loan would be tabled in Cabinet next week Tuesday and it would follow the processes and he hoped that it would be finalised by February and March next year when suppliers would be paid.


He said the delay would be caused by the period that the country was currently in which in essence, he meant the Incwala season.  The MPs were told that initially, they had hoped to make payment to suppliers by September.


The MPs said the minister must ensure that these monies were paid because emaSwati businesses were being closed down.  The minister revealed that the current public debt stood at E18.6 billion.

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