Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.

Eastern Cape Premier accused of arrogance in icon’s funeral funds scandal

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Oct 11, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - It’s nothing short of arrogance for Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela to use the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s credibility as cover for their actions.

That is the view of political analyst Ongama Mtimka following Mkhwebane’s scathing report against Mabuyane and Madikizela over funds meant for the memorial service of Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

Her report found that Mabuyane personally benefited R450,000 from the amount of R1,1 million which were “certainly” public funds that went into the Nedbank account of Allan Morran Design Architectural Services to carry out renovations at his private house.

“Whereas Mr Mabuyane denied the knowledge of arrangements between Mr Bam (local business man) and Mr Madikizela, evidence revealed that his wife, Siyasanga Mabuyane advised the business owner of Allan Morran Design through an email that the deposit of R450,000 was to be used for renovations of their private house,” the report read.

Madikizela - who was then employed by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government - personally benefited R350 000, Mkhwebane’s report found.

In addition, she also found that the ANC benefited by R280 000 from the amount.

Mkhwebane had investigated a complaint lodged by Buffalo City metro resident Xolile Mashukuca in July 2019 following a report in a local newspaper.

The paper had reported about misappropriation of amounts totalling R2 million and R1 Million, with alleged assistance of businessman Lonwabo Bam.

In her report, Mkhwebane said she found the allegations substantiated.

The R3,3million was allocated for the memorial service, as well as other celebratory events, to honour Madikizela-Mandela in April 2018.

The struggle stalwart was born and raised in Bizana, which currently falls under Mbizana.

After finding a raft of criminal intent by Mabuyane and his government colleagues, including contraventions of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the public protector’s office said it had referred the Hawks for criminal investigation.

As pressure continues for him to step aside, Mabuyane has since indicated he would challenge the report.

While campaigning for the upcoming local government elections yesterday, he told reporters that Mkhwebane has missed the opportunity to be ‘public protector’.

“I think the public needs to be protected from her as the public protector. I am taking that report on review on substantive and technical grounds. Generally there are issues with how she conducts herself. We are consulting with lawyers, they are filing papers. We gave her all the details, facts and she deliberately decided to ignore every fact, now the court will help her understand the role of the office she occupies. That office is so important, it must be protected in our democracy. It’s about the future of this country.”

He said he did not know what informed the calls for him to step aside.

He said the matter had been tabled before the integrity committee with facts; facts the public protector ‘decided to ignore for obvious reasons’.

Speaking to Independent Newspapers yesterday, spokesperson for the Madikizela-Mandela family Thembelani Madikizela said processes to interdict the remedial actions would unfold in the coming days.

“We are shocked at the outcome of the report but we are confident that the allegations levelled against some of the individuals will be tested.Babalo has said that he believed there were serious flaws in the report and we believe him,” Madikizela said.

However Mtimka commended the public protector on the work she did in verifying the nature of transactions through soliciting and subpoenaing bank statements.

Mtimka said that “it was nothing short of arrogance” for Madikizela and Mabuyane to use the public protectors' credibility as cover for their actions.

“Her credibility is not the question here as the flow of money speaks for itself,” Mtimka said.

He did, however, make known his anxiousness around the Hawks handling the matter further.

He said Bam reported the allegations to the Hawks before taking it to the Public Protector yet nothing was done and this was indicative of how politicians’ cases were handled.

“My biggest fear is to realise that we are governed by a gangster state with connections in police and investigations,” he said.

In her report, Mkhwebane said the investigation has “undeniably proven” that the nature of the allegations and complaints were largely of a criminal nature, and could not be executed fully by her office without bringing them to the attention of authorities charged with criminal investigation and prosecution.

Mkhwebane also ordered the speaker of the Mbizana Municipality to take urgent steps to ensure that the municipality took the appropriate action, including the institution of disciplinary proceedings against municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka in connection with, and that of any other official involved in the procurement of, transportation services for the memorial service within 60 days of the issuing of the report.

Cape Times

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