File Image: IOL

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance, which runs the Western Cape province, said it was concerned that the state-owned Coega Development Corporation (CDC), tasked with upgrading 12 small boat harbours in the province, had been implicated in the looting of R1.6 billion from neighbouring Eastern Cape.

The City Press newspaper reported that a string of companies, individuals and national government agencies – including the Independent Development Trust, the SA National Roads Agency Limited and CDC, allegedly helped themselves to more than R1.6 billion meant to build roads, schools and houses in the Eastern Cape.

The DA's Western Cape spokesperson on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, Beverley Schäfer, said she would write national public works minister Thulas Nxesi to determine what checks and balances his department would undertake to ensure that the CDC spent the R400 million budgeted for the harbour upgrades effectively.

"I am also concerned that national government has contracted the CDC, which is based in the Eastern Cape ... to undertake work in our province instead of using this as an opportunity to use local companies and create localised employment for Western Cape residents," Schäfer said.

"This raises suspicion around national government abetting corruption by means of strategic state-owned entities."

The contract was particularly worrying as it did not give the Western Cape provincial parliament the opportunity to effectively oversee this project, given the serious allegations levelled against the CDC, added Schäfer.

"This creates the potential for further corruption at the hands of national government in our province, while our small-scale fishermen and women await the necessary infrastructure upgrades in order to fish," she said.

African News Agency (ANA)