Bitou council is under fire once again, this time for disgraceful expenditure on luxury wheels for the mayor, Peter Lobese, and his wingman - YOLANDÉ STANDER reports
THE approval to spend R700,000 on a three-year lease for a new vehicle for Bitou mayor Peter Lobese, and extending the lease on the deputy mayor’s car, caused outrage in the town and beyond.
The move has even sparked a petition, calling on the mayor to obtain a cheaper vehicle and use the rest of the money to feed the thousands of Bitou residents unable to put food on the table as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.
It is not the first time Lobese faces criticism over his car. In 2017, he was in hot water when it came to light that ratepayers were forking out just short of R60,000 per month for his Volvo SUV - this after he had been involved in an accident in his previous mayoral vehicle, a luxury BMW.
Lobese’s new car lease also extends over a three-year period, despite there only being a year left in his term as mayor.
“That such items can seriously be approved in these troubled times is startling. Even contemplating it is demonstrating a manifest lack of concern and accountability,” said Plett Ratepayers Association chairman Peter Gaylard.
The Association has written to Bitou, calling on council to rescind the decision. The petition, which was started by concerned residents and garnered 240+ signatures by July 21, also criticised the decision and called on the mayor to obtain a “more reasonably-priced vehicle” and use the rest of the money to feed the people of the town “you serve”.
The petition reads, inter alia: “Things are only going to get worse in the next few months - can you really sit back and watch people starve while you drive around in a luxury limousine?”
Lobese is urged to review all discretionary and vanity projects as a matter of urgency, and eliminate them where possible. “In this category we include the acquisition of a new mayoral car and salary increases for councillors.”
This latest outcry over municipal expenditure comes at a time when revenue has dipped to 50% in May.
“We need an austerity budget, not one full of nice-to-haves. Service delivery should be the first and only priority,” said Gaylard.
The municipality did not respond to questions by CXPRESS before deadline. Municipal spokesperson Andile Namntu, however, said that they were not aware of the petition or the ratepayers’ letter.
Garden Route Media
• The petition can be viewed and signed by googling ‘Peter Lobese sell your new car to feed starving people in Plett’.