EC Premier Oscar Mabuyane fingered in benefiting from money meant for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela memorial service
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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made damning findings against Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane for irregularly benefiting from the R1.1 million tender that was meant for the memorial service of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
But, Mabuyane has instructed his lawyers to take the report on judicial review and also wants to interdict the remedial action.
In her report released on Friday, Mkhwebane ordered the Hawks to investigate allegations that Mabuyane received R450 000 that was used to renovate his house while he was MEC for economic development.
This comes after she investigated a complaint lodged by Buffalo City metro resident Xolile Mashukuca in July 2019 following report in a local newspaper. The paper had reported about misappropriation of amounts totalling R2 million and R1m, with alleged assistance of businessman Lonwabo Bam.
In her report, Mkhwebane said she found the allegations substantiated. She said Mabuyane personally benefitted R450 000 from the amount of R1.1m, which were certainly public funds.
Mkhwebane also said Babalo Madikizela, who is now Public Works MEC, personally benefited R350 000 and the ANC benefited by R280 000 from the amount.
“The financial benefits that accrued to Mr Mabuyane, Mr Madikizela and the ANC raise a suspicion of a commission of criminal conduct in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998 and/or Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004.
“Accordingly this part of the investigation has been referred to the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) of the SAPS,” she said.
She also found the conduct of municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka in his role in the matter constituting improper conduct.
The public protector 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.
“The issues investigated and the evidence obtained are accordingly, in terms of section 6(4)(c)(ii) of the Public Protector Act, referred to the head of the DPCI/Hawks of the SAPS for consideration of criminal investigation, with a view to 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 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.
Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, said the premier noted the release of the report by Mkhwebane. Mbananga also said Mabuyane maintained that that he was never involved in any acts of fraud or corruption.
“As a result, he has instructed his legal representatives to take the report on judicial review because it ignored substantial information that sought to respond to the allegations levelled against him.
“The premier has further instructed his legal counsel to urgently interdict the implementation of the remedial actions,” he said.
Mbananga said Mabuyane remained “unwavering in his commitment to fight corruption and maladministration”, and remained focused on serving the people of the Eastern Cape.
DA leader in the Eastern Cape Andrew Whitfield called on Mabuyane to resign in light of the damning report along with Madikizela.
“It is galling that the premier and his executive can walk around and preach about tackling corruption, good governance and consequence management, when he himself has had his hand in the cookie jar the entire time,” Whitfield said.