Letter to the Chairperson of the Ethic Committee re
 "Is Daimler test-driving Mbeki?" by Bantu Holomisa - UDM President (27/08/2001) 

The Chairperson
Ethics Committee
Parliament

Dear Madam

"IS DAIMLER TEST-DRIVING MBEKI?"

The above heading has been lifted as it stands in an article published in Noseweek, August-September 2001 issue. I raise this matter as an issue of serious national concern when the name of the Head of State and Government is sallied by references that link it to dubious car deals involving Daimler-Chrysler and EADS which have dominated media reportage in an unflattering manner to the country's leaders' image.

The Noseweek reports that President Thabo Mbeki has been given a R2 Million worth Mercedes Benz by Daimler-Chrysler for test-driving. It is further alleged that he test-drove the said vehicle for six months whereas it is claimed that Daimler-Chrysler normally gives out cars to people for test driving for only 2 weeks.

These disturbing reports allege that the President returned the said car to Daimler-Chrysler when there was this noise about Tony Yengeni's 4x4 Merc in March this year. This report forms part of other allegations involving delivery of expensive vehicles by Daimler-Chrysler to 30 government VIPs and when an "extremely well placed source" whispered that Daimler-Chrysler "were dishing out nice-but-slightly-dinged Mercs to all the members of the National Federated Chamber of Commerce who are negotiating to merge with the old Whiteys in Sacob".

When Daimler-Chrysler Spokesperson Lulama Chakela was asked to comment on the President's test drive she said "I cannot comment due to Daimler-Chrysler's policy of providing no comment to the press until the Arms Deal has been concluded" Chakela is said to be referring to an investigation by German prosecutors who are uncomfortable at the reports of these shady deals.

I hereby request the Ethics Committee to investigate whether the President had declared this "test-drive" deal to the committee in view of the fact that it is an unusual courtesy to give such an extended test drive period.

There are some unanswered questions regarding the President's, Yengeni's, Nyanda's and Nafcoc's acquisition of vehicles from Daimler-Chrysler. Once these surreptitious deals came to the glare of the media a lot of unsatisfactory explanations about the nature of the acquisition are made. Sometimes the vehicles in question are either returned to Daimler-Chrysler or would-be recipients offer to purchase them outside the known channels of hire-purchase. A case in point is the report that President Mbeki now intends to buy the up-graded S-600 Merc.

Daimler-Chrysler does not normally display bullet-proof cars in their showroom. Such a car would have been specially ordered from the manufacturers with the required specifications. If the government ordered the car, the responsible department would have issued specification to the would-be manufacturer. However, no one in the government wants to comment on this issue.

One wonders whether Tony Yengeni's intransigence towards your committee was occasioned by the knowledge that even seniors were involved in similar transactions.

We urge the Committee to widen the Scope of its investigations to cover not only the junior officials like Yengeni but his seniors as well. For more information do not hesitate to check the Noseweek website: www.noseweek.co.za.

Yours Sincerely
B Holomisa
President: United Democratic Movement

CC : Arms Investigators
The Speaker of the National Assembly
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