Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malema's R1.2m car


ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has been roaring around in a R1.2m car - thanks to the generous boss of a construction company which has scored more than R200m in state contracts in Malema’s powerbase province of Limpopo.
And the man who gave him the luxury Range Rover, MPPJ Property Development boss Matome Hlabioa, boasted this week that he had given the high-living youth league leader other fancy cars before.

He also said he was a key funder of the league’s recent elective conference.

“He has been driving my cars long before he became president. If Julius wants something like a car I give it to him. I own more than 10 cars. If you look at the car he is driving which is (worth) about R1.2m, it is the cheapest car I own,” Hlabioa said.

But he denied claims by a company insider that the cars were a direct “thank you” for Malema’s help in swinging deals for Hlabioa’s Limpopo company.

Shared business interest

City Press has also established that Hlabioa and Limpopo premier
Cassel Mathale – accused by ANC opponents of allowing Malema to “run the province” – have had a shared business interest.

City Press has discovered official records which show that MPPJ’s success in housing tenders enjoyed a winning trajectory which mirrored that of Malema’s rise in political power from 2008, when he was first elected league president.

The Limpopo contracts MPPJ won include:

» A R115m housing tender to complete 2 981 low- cost houses in Mopani and Waterberg district municipalities in Limpopo in the 2007/08 financial year;

» A R15.4m tender in the Waterberg district municipality in 2007;

» A R3.35m tender from Public Works for work in the Greater Giyani district in 2008;

» A R11.6m housing tender for the Mogalakwena local municipality for 300 units in the 2008/09 financial year;

» A R12.9m tender for additions and renovations at a primary school last year;

» A R15.9m tender for work at another primary school last year; and

» A R38.2m housing tender for 700 units in Greater Marble Hall local municipality, also during last year.

Lifestyle audit

This latest revelation comes amid calls for the SA Revenue Service (SARS) to scrutinise Malema’s financial affairs and subject him to a lifestyle audit. This as it emerged that he has flattened his R3.6m Sandton home to replace it with a new one at an estimated construction cost of between R7m and R16m.

This week a defiant Malema told those querying the source of his wealth: “It’s none of your business... you must mind your own business.

“One of the things I’ve learned in my short life in politics is the ability to live in the conditions of capitalism while fighting it and defeating it.”

The registration of the car in MPPJ’s name means it would not show up in any lifestyle audit and would not incur any tax liability for Malema.

SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay said a person using a vehicle owned by another entity would only attract tax implications if the person was employed by the other party, and that it would then be viewed as a fringe benefit which would need to be declared.

Malema has been driving the Range Rover (registration ZBM 223 GP) for several months already.

City Press understands that for the last three years he drove a similar model vehicle that was also registered to MPPJ.

An MPPJ insider said: “Hlabioa is a businessman who is benefitting from government tenders and he has to look after people like Malema with gifts because they support him to get those tenders.

“It is a mutually beneficial relationship. There is no other explanation for Malema driving his car while he is a businessman dealing with government.”

Lehlogonolo Masoga, Malema’s former friend and now ousted Limpopo youth league chairperson, said: “There is nothing called a free lunch in this world. What your investigation has discovered is sufficient”.

Political influence

But Hlabioa dismissed claims he was looking after Malema because of his political influence.

“Malema is like a son to me, I have been looking after him for many years even before he became the president of the youth league. It is just a coincidence. There is no benefit for me in any way because he has no capacity to give tenders to anyone.”

Malema could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts. But youth league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said: “We are not going to comment anything about that. We only discuss political issues in the media, not personal matters.”

Mathale did not respond to requests for comment this week.

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