The DA in the Free State has condemned its provincial government for allegedly spending over R20 million for the farewell function of Ace Magashule. File picture: Timothy Bernard/ANA

Johannesburg - The DA in the Free State has condemned its provincial government for allegedly spending more than R20 million on the farewell function for former Premier Ace Magashule while its municipalities owe Eskom more than R6 billion.

DA Free State caucus leader Dr Roy Jankielsohn on Wednesday expressed his outrage saying the money spent at the farewell and welcome of new Premier Sisi Ntombela could have been utilised to improve service delivery or assist with paying off the Free State’s overdue Eskom bill standing at R6.2 billion, “the highest provincial debt to Eskom in the country”.

Jankielsohn said his party would submit written questions to all provincial government departments as well as all municipal councils to get to the bottom of how much money “has been looted” from the province for the bussing in of people and the costs associated with general travel in subsistence allowances.

“Magashule has a long track record of utilising taxpayers’ money to boost his ego by bussing in rent-a-crowd at government events. In 2009, Magashule spent R14.3 million on his inauguration function, and this year he spent R3 million on a State of the Province Address (Sopa) in his hometown of Parys which doubled as a farewell function. 

“Magashule did not even attend the debate following his State of the Province Address,” Jankielsohn said.

The DA was also outraged by a letter written by the provincial director-general Kopung Ralikontsane directing officials to leave their place of work by 9am on Wednesday morning and 10am on Thursday for their Easter vacation. On Wednesday, officials were instructed to join Magashule and Ntombela’s festivities at the Free State Rugby Stadium.

“Apart from unnecessary waste of public funds intended for service delivery programmes, the instruction to all officials to abandon their posts is indicative of the ‘big man” syndrome we have come to associate with Ace Magashule.

“It is a real pity that Premier Sisi Ntombela would willingly participate in such an arrogant and self-serving endeavour, so early in her term she is fast becoming a Magashule mini-me. Her actions are at odds with her words, which is typical ANC behaviour,” Jankielsohn said.

He insisted that Premier Ntombela was merely carrying on where Magashule left off which meant that the people of the Free State  would continue to be denied effective, responsive and transparent governance.

“That the provincial treasury will continue to be looted to enrich ANC cadres and cronies, that service delivery will continue to deteriorate and that economic opportunities will continue to be denied to hundreds of thousands of unemployed FreeStaters,” Jankielsohn said.

Free State Premier spokesperson Tiisetso Makhele and Setjhaba Maphalla, director of corporate communication, failed to respond to DA statement.  

The Star