PREMIER Noxolo Kiviet needs to explain how money meant for Nelson Mandela’s memorial services and funeral was used to buy takeaways and T-shirts.
So said ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane yesterday. Political parties described the misuse of state funds in the name of Mandela as a disgrace and insult to his family.
Mabuyane said: “We cannot have a situation where Mandela’s name is dragged through the mud in this fashion.
“Any official or anyone found to have done anything wrong in the procurement of goods in preparations for the send-off must be taken to account.”
The Dispatch reported that R22-million was diverted from social funds to pay for the Nelson Mandela memorial services. The money is set to grow to R90-million, to be paid from money transferred to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) for projects in the Transkei.
An amount of R5-million was paid to a football boss in Cape Town to print thousands of shirts bearing Mandela’s face.
The money was taken from a R330-million infrastructure grant provincial treasury channelled to ECDC as the department’s implementing agent after the mid-term budget adjustments last September.
More than R333 000 was spent on meals from McDonald’s and more than R400 000 on KFC. The spending contravened treasury instructions for Mandela events that the use of taxpayers’ money be confined to paying for transport and booking venues.
Kiviet’s spokesman Mahlubandile Qwase confirmed receipt of questions from the Dispatch three days ago, but no response had been received by time of going to print yesterday.
DA’s Bobby Stevenson, who asked a parliamentary question relating to the expenditure, said the latest revelations did not form part of the premier’s reply. “Either she did not know what funds are being mismanaged under her nose or the information is being withheld from her because of a cover-up.”
Stevenson said his party wanted to know the actual cost per T-shirt. “What makes the situation worse is that the money came from an infrastructure grant of R330-million for running water, electricity, sanitation and the replacement of mud schools and hospitals in the part of the province where service delivery is most desperately needed. We shouldn’t be taking money for hospitals to spend on takeaways.”
UDM’s Max Mhlati was skeptical that any action would be taken against those implicated. “Nothing is going to happen to that Hawks investigation.”
Mbulelo Ntenjwa of COPE described it as a disgrace. “If they can do this in Mandela’s name, what or who can stop them from looting state resources even further,” Ntenjwa said.
Correspondence between provincial treasury head Marion Mbina-Mthembu to ECDC’s Sithembele Mase makes it clear ECDC was the provincial “project host” or “paymaster” for the funeral and its logistics.
For control purposes, any work to be paid for by provincial, local and national government relating to the funeral must be endorsed by provincial treasury to ensure no duplication of costs, she said.