The Mpumalanga government irregularly paid millions to a company that was not tax compliant to construct a statue of Nelson Mandela near the Provincial Legislature.
Godfrey Ntombela, the HoD of Culture, Sport, and Recreation, wrote to the Mpumalanga Provincial Treasury on 23 October last year, complaining that former MEC Blessing Thandi Shongwe and her department, irregularly paid Mideast Investment over R9 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to construct the statue of Mandela outside the Legislature.
Ntombela says the department paid the money knowing very well that the Company was not Tax compliant. Ntombela’s official document to treasury also says that “the department incurred an irregular expenditure by doing so”.
When the Mandela statue was constructed in the 2018/2019 financial year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and some concerned residents of Mpumalanga raised concerns with MEC Shongwe and her department about the R9 151 848 paid to Mideast Investments, based on the amount and the fact that the statue did not look anything like Mandela at that time.
We also reported the matter to the Public Protector and the Auditor General then, but they did nothing.
The DA also asked questions in the legislature then because we believed that there were irregularities concerning the statue and that amount paid to Mideast Investments.
The Culture, Sport, and Recreation department at that time responded by saying that “Mideast Investment conformed to the prescripts set out by supply chain management”. They also said: “The various criteria on functionality held that bids which scored low on the functionality threshold were disqualified.”
But now Ntombela (the current HOD Culture, Sport, and Recreation) has vindicated the DA by confirming that the tender which was awarded to Mideast Investments was irregular – because Shongwe and her department knew by then that the Company (Mideast Investments) was not tax compliant, and this – “resulted in the department having to report R9 151 848 as irregular expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year”.
It is sad that as South Africa celebrates 30 years of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, his legacy is being distorted and tarnished by the ANC-led Mpumalanga government hrough dubious financial dealings.
We call on Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) to do a thorough investigation on Blessing Thandi Shongwe and her relationship with Mideast Investments concerning the Mandela statue. They must pay back the money and face the arm of the law if they are found to have bent the regulations. This is corruption on its highest level and it must be dealt with.
Should the provincial government do nothing about this, we will be forced to open a criminal case and report this matter to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).