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Mkhwebane finds R300 million was indeed misappropriated during Mandela funeral

Dec 4, 2017
Mkhwebane finds R300 million was indeed misappropriated during Mandela funeral

Releasing her Mandela Funeral report, Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, on Monday recommended that President Jacob Zuma authorises the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate the irregular or negligent expenditure of R300 million during former president, Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

The late statesman and global icon, fondly known as Madiba, died on 5 December 2013 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection. 

Mandela's body lay in state from 11 to 13 December at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and a state funeral was held on 15 December in his rural home of Qunu, outside Mthatha.

Allegations surfaced after the funeral of how public funds were abused during the course of the funeral, leading to an investigation by the office of the Public Protector. Consequently, Advocate Mkhwebane released her Madiba Funeral report at the the Public Protector offices in Pretoria.

"We received several complaints in 2014 from members of the public in connection with reports that appeared in the print media about the misappropriation of public funds in the procurement of goods and services for the funeral of President Mandela," Mkhwebane said.

In her investigations, she found “poor planning” for the Mandela funeral at all government levels and implicated Eastern Cape officials from the provincial government, state entities and local government in the mismanagement of the funds.

The R300 million was apparently misspent by the Eastern Cape provincial government, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and the King Sabata Dalindyebo District Municipality.

"It was alleged that the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCM) paid an amount of R6 million to a service provider to transport mourners around East London and King Williams Town to attend memorial services from 10 to 12 December 2013.

"The King Sabata Dalindyebo Local (KSD) Municipality incurred expenditure in excess of R31 million to procure goods and services for President Mandela’s funeral," she added.

"R22 million was paid for the procurement of goods and services for funeral from 'a R330 million infrastructure grant' the provincial treasury channeled to ECDC as the department’s implementing agent after the mid -term budget adjustments last September.”

In her investigations, Mkhwebane found that “the funds were meant for the provision of running water, electricity, sanitation, ablution facilities, replacement of mud-schools and refurbishing of hospitals” were used to buy t-shirts and to transport mourners as well as pay for catering at memorial services.

She also discovered unauthorised payments to service providers without proof of services being delivered and gross overpricing by suppliers, who were not on municipal databases and "suddenly appeared from nowhere".

“How do you charge R350 for a t-shirt ... officials are supposed to follow the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), but service providers, where is your conscious when charging the State so much money for a t-shirt?” Mkhwebane said.

She added; “It’s very concerning where you find an email sent to ECDC told to pay 11 million by 11 o’clock, and the documents will follow.

“In other instances, even the invoices were written on the letterhead of the ANC. That’s the attitude of saying I’ve got two masters, the ANC and the municipality, forgetting that as an official of government you must perform in terms of the PFMA.

"Several members of the public filed complaints raising concerns about what they perceived as excessive, unconscionable and unnecessary use of public funds in the Eastern Cape in connection with the appointment of service providers."

The public protector also recommended that the Easternn Cape provincial treasury institute an investigation into how its former head of department approved the allocation of funds, while the Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay municipal managers should investigate the money spent on the funeral activities.

Regarding the R250 000 paid into the private bank account of the Eastern Cape premier, Phumulo Masualle, by the treasury, Mkhwebane found that “the current premier has done nothing wrong. The money was deposited into his personal account, not of his own doing. He requested that the money be reversed”.

She has also recommended that Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, sets out guidelines for state funerals and that the national treasury cost the entire event before funds are released.