Threat to boycott polls over missing millions

By Thabiso Thakali Time of article published Jul 26, 2016

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The tribal community of Bapo Ba Mogale outside Brits in the North West is threatening to boycott municipal elections over a fight with their tribal council.

The community now wants the provincial leadership to intervene in their on-going upheavals with the tribal authority over alleged misuse of funds earmarked to develop their area.

This is not the first time Bapo Traditional Council's finances have been called into scrutiny by the community.

In 2013, more than R500 million disappeared from the tribal council trust fund and the matter is currently being investigated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The area which is situated along the N4 to Rustenburg, is surrounded by platinum rich mining land.

But some residents claim their mineral wealth has hardly brought them a better life with some of the streets without lights and not tarred. They feel that development runs past them.

Last week some of their frustrations came to a head when the community took to a local radio station to air allegations misuse of mining funds meant to benefit them.

They alleged that since two years ago London listed platinum mine, Lonmin poured millions of rands to the tribal council for local economic development but the community is yet to see the benefits.

Community spokesman Kgomotso Morare said the tribal council is refusing to provide residents with audited financial statements into the performance of an investment arm created out of mining rights royalties.

“An investment company was registered and as the community we thought that this was going to benefit us even though it was created without community resolution,”he said. “It's two years now and there has not been a single community meeting. We swopped tribal royalties into equity transactions but under that equity there are so many hidden things that the community does not know of.”

Morare said the investment company has not held an annual general meeting with the community. The company is a service provider to Lonmin mine with trucks, buses and equipment running into millions of rand. He said a report presented at a last meeting lacked detail.

“We are going to mobilise the community to boycott this election if we don't get the political leadership of the province to listen to us on this matters,” he said. “We are tired of watching from the sidelines as our money is being misused. We want the government to get involved and address this issue because it impacts on people's lives and their progress.”

Last week a group of traditional council supporters forced Madibeng FM a community radio in Brits to cancel an interview with those opposed to the current tribal leadership.

Station manager Nick Motloung said he had been following the issues of Bapong and had invited the traditional council and its critics to talk about lack of development in the area.

“People alleged misuse and mismanagement of funds when we asked them about why there was lack of development in their area,” he said.

Motloung said he had been curious why the area has been lagging behind without a police station, street lights and a community hall while money was being poured into the council.

He said he had been broadcasting a series of debates about Bapong and the problems the community continues to face. He has since been threatened by unknown people and has opened a case with the police.

Yesterday Bapo Traditional Council spokesman Vladimir Mogale said the council was only two years into administration would submit its first audited financial statements in September.

He said most of the people who made allegations against the council were opposed to the new administration and were making allegations without proof.

“We now have four major projects owned by the community including a fleet of 100 buses and R200 million of procurement business which its dividends will come after some time,” he said. “We gave the community a feedback report with explanations on why we haven't got audited reports. Our auditors said they wanted to do the 2015 and 2016 financial years together.”

Mogale accused Motloung of being biased by allowing people to make allegations without proof during his radio show.

He urged anyone with proof of wrong doing to approach the relevant authorities to investigate the matter.

He said the council was apolitical and the threat by the community to boycott elections was “neither here nor there”.


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Election Bureau

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