East London - Government funds meant for former president Nelson Mandela's memorial and funeral were not misused, an Eastern Cape ANC official said on Tuesday.
"We reject the constant insinuation by some newspapers that the ANC-led government blatantly disregarded existing financial management and procurement laws when procuring services around the funeral service of our former president," spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said in a statement.
The Sunday Times reported that millions in public funds spent on the funeral were paid to suppliers without official approval, and that some of the money was used for the African National Congress's election campaign.
It reported some of the findings of a forensic report, which was handed to the Hawks. It showed R22 million used for the funeral, including the cost of T-shirts, food and transport, was disbursed irregularly by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.
The report showed that another R55m spent fell outside the scope of the investigation, suggesting that the tally of payments could be higher.
The Eastern Cape provincial treasury reportedly deposited R250,000 into provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle's bank account, the newspaper reported. This amount was reversed five days later after questions about the transaction arose.
Qoboshiyane said the reports were an attack on Masualle.
"The propensity of the sources used by the newspapers and their attempt to caricature our provincial chairperson the way they did is clear opportunism of desperate proportions."
He said any transaction in Masualle's personal account was later withdrawn and re-directed to a government account, and only R5 243.58 was used for official business.
The ANC indicated in an earlier statement that the figure was R1 088, but subsequently corrected it.
"Auditors who will be auditing the usage of these funds will attest to this," Qoboshiyane said.
He said government used existing processes and institutions to deal with fraud, corruption, and the misuse of public funds.
Qoboshiyane said editors were uninformed and "armed with bias, and manipulated information, prosecuted by individuals inebriated by undefined personal interests".
He urged editors to exercise caution and to verify information they received.
He said the state was investigating the fraud allegations and anyone with information regarding the misuse of funds should report it to law enforcement agencies.