The Democratic Alliance has requested that public protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigate the procurement process. The bronze statue of former President Nelson Mandela which angered Mpumalanga locals is said to be the result of a R1.5 million bribe.
This is according to Jane Sithole, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Mpumalanga premier candidate, who has requested that public protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigate the procurement process.
The R8.3 million bronze statue, which was unveiled in celebration of Madiba’s 100th birthday and heritage month, left a bitter taste in the mouths of locals and opposition parties who argue that the funds used to procure the effigy would have been better spent on fighting poverty in the embattled province.
DA: Mpumalanga MEC accepted a R1.5 million bribe
Despite the public outcry, the MEC for culture, sports, and recreation in the region, Thandi Shongwe, defended the statue and the state funds used to construct it. The DA has now accused Shongwe of receiving a bribe for her role in the procurement process.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were the first the raise the flag of corruption during the statue’s unveiling. Collen Sedibe, the regional chairperson of the party, blasted the African National Congress (ANC) for the unwarranted wastage of state funds, eluding to devious procurement processes and inflated costs, saying:
“The ANC is stealing the money to buy votes during elections, so these costly statues are their way to loot.
If the statue itself is R8.3m and with the ceremony where they hired tents, catering and bought ANC T-shirts, we are talking of R20 million. We can’t keep quiet when a government event is turned into an ANC campaign.”
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Shongwe dubious history beyond the Mandela statue
The DA has taken the allegations one step further. According to a report by The Citizen, Sithole cites Shongwe’s nefarious track record with tenders and state funds as a cause for serious concern, saying:
“MEC Shongwe is no stranger to controversy related to hyper-inflated tenders as she has been linked to multiple inflated tenders during her time as speaker of the provincial legislature.
Over the past year, more reports of MEC Shongwe’s alleged involvement in irregular tenders have surfaced.
As one of former premier DD Mabuza’s closest allies, MEC Shongwe has for a long time enjoyed the perks of Mabuza’s protection, but her cover started to fall when she bungled the appointment of an acting premier and was demoted to culture, sports, and recreation MEC.”
Sithole also highlighted Shongwe’s previous dubious tender dealings, which include the irregular awarding of a tender of R9.9 million to Junox 210 CC for the supply of photocopiers for a three-year period and the awarding of a R19.6 million tender to controversial Frugacode CC for security and data integrity.
Sithole has urged the public protector to conduct a thorough inquiry into Shongwe’s involvement in the procurement of the Mandela statue, adding that the DA would continue to monitor the situation closely.
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