Pretoria - Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane on Monday said a probe by her office had unearthed evidence of massive inflation of prices, misappropriation of funds, poor planning by the South African government, and disregard for supply chain regulations during the memorial and funeral services of former President Nelson Mandela.
“As far as the poor planning is concerned, it is very scary, I must say. It is very concerning. You find am email being sent to the ECDC [Eastern Cape Development Corporation] telling it to pay R11 million by 11 o’clock and the documents will follow. You find a company that has produced t-shirts [bidding farewell to the revered statesman], but they are not delivered. You find that the person who signed for the T-shirts is not even an employee of the municipality,” Mkhwebane said as she addressed a press briefing in Pretoria on Monday.
“When forensic investigations were done, they found that the person who signed up [procured] for the t-shirts, actually works for the supplier. Then the suppliers say I delivered the T-shirts, I didn’t find anyone and I dropped the t-shirts at the taxi rank. Some venues were organised but no people came forth.”
Mkhwebane said the levels of plunder which went around the level one State funeral were deeply disheartening.
“It is very concerning, that we can use a funeral to do such things. Even if it were officials did this, even the members of the public, even the very same service providers – how do you escalate prices or even send an invoice for something you have not delivered?” asked the Public Protector.
She said in some instances, it has been proven that members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) were giving instructions to government officials to “just pay without any documents”.
“How do you charge a T-shirt for R350? That is exorbitant. Members of the public, service providers – where is your conscience? Charging the State so much money for a T-shirt or for transportation? This was a funeral of a [former] head of State and was supposed to be handled by national [authorities]. In this instance, they said because the former head of State wanted to be buried in Qunu, therefore Eastern Cape province should make the arrangements but then that process was not coordinated,” said Mkhwebane.
“If these state funerals are coordinated by National Treasury, it makes sure that Treasury prescripts are complied with. There is a list of service providers in the database. Some quotations were acquired over the phone, or people were told over the phone – pay so and so or transfer so much to somebody. How do you pay R10 or R11 million without receiving any supporting documents?”
Mkhwebane has instructed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to initiate Special Investigating Unit investigations into unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money used during the funeral and memorial services of Mandela in 2013.
“The allegations that the ECPG improperly diverted funds amounting to R300 million appropriated to the ECDC [Eastern Cape Development Corporation] for the acceleration of social infrastructure development to be used for the funeral of President Mandela is substantiated,” said Mkhwebane.
“The head of department of provincial planning and treasury, Ms Mbina-Mthembu recommended to Eastern Cape provincial exco on December 6 2013 that funds appropriated to ECDC should be utilised for the funeral of President Mandela. Her advice to the provincial exco was based on Treasury Regulation 6.1.3.
However, Mkhwebane found that Treasury Regulation 6.1.3 was not applicable in the matter.
“Neither the board of the ECDC, as the accounting authority, nor the head of the DEDEAT [the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in Eastern Cape], was involved in Ms Mbina-Mthembu’s decision to propose the variation of funds appropriated to the ECDC for social infrastructure development, for the purposes of the expenditure to be incurred for President Mandela funeral,” said Mkhwebane.
She then instructed Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to issue a proclamation in terms of section 21 of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act of 1996 to investigate the unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money and property, unlawful irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures and practices.
That investigation will also probe “intentional or negligent loss of public money by organs of State referred to in this report” with a view to institute civil action for the recovery of the loss of public money by the organs of State in the procurement of goods and services for Madiba’s funeral.