Eastern Cape ANC lashes out at Mkhwebane over damning memorial service funds report
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CAPE TOWN - The ANC in the Eastern Cape has accused Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane of being “party to intra-party and external factionalism” after she released a scathing report that the party and its chairperson and Premier Oscar Mabuyane benefited from funds meant for a memorial service of Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
After remaining mum on the R280 000 of public funds which Mkhwebane found to have been “improperly” donated to the ANC in the Eastern Cape, the party in the province has “resolved to seek legal advice on the matter”.
Mkhwebane’s report released on Friday also made damning findings against ANC provincial treasurer and MEC for Public Works and Infrastructure Babalo Madikizela.
In her report she found that Mabuyane personally benefited to the tune of R450 000 from the amount of R1,1 million which was “certainly” public money that went into the Nedbank account of Allan Morran Design Architectural Services to carry out renovations at his private house.
Madikizela - who was then employed by the Eastern Cape Provincial government - personally benefited in the amount of R350 000, Mkhwebane’s report found.
In addition, she found that the ANC benefited by R280 000 from the amount.
The Mbizana municipality allowed a government event, the memorial service of Madikizela-Mandela, to be “taken over by private persons and politicians who were not in the employ of government and it was subsequently done improperly and outside any identifiable supply chain management processes”, the report found.
“As a result, Mbizana Local Taxi Association and Koo Construction and Projects rendered the transport service for the memorial service following informal negotiations between the ANC leaders in Mbizana and local taxi associations.
“The amount of R1.1m, was thereafter irregularly and improperly deposited into the account of Mthombeni Project (Pty) Ltd , by Mr Luvuyo Mahlaka, the Municipal Manager of Mbizana Local Municipality,” found the Public Protector.
The Public Protector, on the remedial actions, referred Mabuyane and Madikizela to the Hawks "for consideration of criminal investigation" while ordering the municipality to take “appropriate action in respect of the financial misconduct” of Mahlaka.
In a statement on Tuesday, the ANC in the province questioned Mkhwebane’s “timing” on the release of the report.
ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said the party’s provincial executive committee has directed Mabuyane and Madikizela to submit the report and update the Provincial Integrity Committee (PIC) about the “current developments for the PIC to make a judgment call”. Mabuyane and Madikizela have said they will take the report to judicial review.
“While the ANC respect the Public Protector's Office and its role in promoting accountability in our country consistent with the stance of our movement on all Chapter 9 institutions, however it is unfortunate that the report of the Public Protector is released on the verge of the Local Government Elections when it was finalised two months back. This stance and timing regrettable weaponised the belief that the Public Protector is party to intra-party and external factionalism,” Ngcukayitobi said.
But the public protector hit back describing the ANC allegations as “baseless”.
“The office does not stop exercising its powers or performing its functions merely because an election is approaching. The last two responses to notices served on implicated parties were received on 13 and 22 July 2021.
“Once all the responses were in, the investigation team had to study and analyse the submissions, conduct legal research, draft the report, have it quality-assured at investigation branch level.
“The question that the ANC in the Eastern Cape ought to concern itself with is whether Premier Mabuyane, MEC Madikizela and the party itself benefited from funds siphoned from the public purse under the pretext that the money was going to be used to ferry mourners to the memorial service of Ms. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” said Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.