‘Wasteful’ Mandela funeral

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Plans around former president Nelson Mandela’s grave site in Qunu, Eastern Cape, are veiled in mystery.Picture:Gallo Images

On the eve of former president Nelson Mandela’s death four years ago, it has emerged that the Eastern Cape government accumulated R330m of wasteful expenditure on his funeral, including about R6m spent on transporting mourners.

In what public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has described as a violation of the provisions of the Constitution, several provincial government officials were fingered in the maladministration of funds including the head of the department of provincial planning and treasury Marion Mbina-Mthembu.

“Mbina-Mthembu approved an irregular payment of public funds into the personal bank account of MEC Phumulo Masualle and subsequently the opening of a special departmental account which gave him access to public funds,” Mkhwebane said.

“Millions of rands of public funds earmarked for service delivery and social infrastructure development were used for a state funeral because of a lack of coordinated planning and non-compliance with the legislation,” she said.

The public protector was asked to investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds by government and other state-owned entities.

Yesterday, she released the report and asked the Eastern Cape provincial treasury to conduct an investigation into the financial misconduct of Mbina-Mthembu and to take appropriate action.

She also asked four municipal managers to investigate the financial misconduct of their officials.

“An amount of R22m was paid for the procurement of goods and services for the funeral. These funds were meant for the provision of running water, electricity and sanitation,” Mkhwebane said.

She has recommended that the finance minister establishes a task team consisting of all role players at all levels of the government to develop a coordinated plan for the eventuality of state funerals. She said a fraud case was being investigated by the Hawks.

kutullom@thenewage.co.za

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