Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

LEATHER upholstery‚ elegant finishes‚ climate control and a state-of-the-art sound system married to a powerful high-performance engine in a luxury sedan … or an eco-friendly hatchback?

That is the choice facing the newly elected mayors of Tshwane‚ Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, as they ponder abandoning the luxury vehicles used by their predecessors in favour of something with less "bling"‚ as driven by their counterpart in Cape Town.

Former executive mayor of Johannesburg Parks Tau enjoyed the use of a BMW 5 Series, which carries a price tag ranging from R652,000 to more than R1m.

Kgosientso Ramokgopa used a BMW Gran Turismo to navigate the streets of the country’s capital‚ Tshwane. It is described by the manufacturer as a luxury vehicle that "combines a powerful sporting character with inspiring size".

The current price for this vehicle starts at R556,000 for a 320i and soars to R1.2m for the top-of-the range 550i.

Nelson Mandela Bay’s former mayor Danny Jordaan used a 2016 Audi A6‚ "courtesy of Volkswagen at no cost"‚ according to municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron. These vehicles currently cost roughly R662,000 for the 1.8l model to R822,500 for the 2l version.

DA mayor Athol Trollip vowed after being sworn in that the days of flashy cars in the metro were over.

"Corruption is the enemy of freedom and fairness and the thief of opportunity‚" he said. "There will be no more erosion of municipal resources due to corruption procurement practices. There will be no more wasting of our resources on the glitz and glamour of irrelevant public events‚ flashy cars and wasteful expenditure on cadre deployment."

While it remains to be seen whether the mayoral cars in Tshwane‚ Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay are downgraded to something more modest‚ Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is leading by example‚ being chauffeured about the city in a hybrid Toyota Prius.

Helen Zille‚ her predecessor‚ also used a Toyota Prius — which retails for R446,400.

De Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, said both of the hybrid vehicles now formed part of the city’s pool vehicles that were used to transport mayoral committee (mayco) members.

"There is a pool of seven vehicles that are used to escort the mayor‚ deputy mayor‚ speaker‚ chief whip and mayco members when they need to attend meetings or events. The fleet includes four BMWs‚ two Toyota Priuses and a Toyota Fortuner. The city also makes use of hired vehicles when needed‚" she said.

"Blue light brigades are not allowed in the Cape Town government. The mayor decided that this was not necessary‚" she said.

Newly elected speaker of the City of Johannesburg‚ Vasco Da Gama‚ said the South African Police Service (SAPS) protection unit determined what vehicle was used by the mayor. "It is not the function of the mayor to decide‚" said Da Gama.

Outgoing city manager of Tshwane‚ Jason Ngubeni‚ said during the election of Solly Msimanga that national legislation provided that a municipal council could make a municipal-owned vehicle available to an executive mayor for use on official purposes.

The handbook of members of the executive and presiding officers says: "State-owned official vehicles and SAPS VIP drivers and protectors‚ may be allocated to members and are made available for official purposes and in the interest of security."

"The accommodation of executive mayors will be on the level of ministerial standard."

The metro police VIP protection unit provides both the driver and a protector for the mayor of Tshwane.

TMG Digital