Parliament should investigate allegations of corruption relating to the delayed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela museum project in Brandfort, Free State's Public Protector has said. This follows denials by former Free State premier Ace Magashule on Monday night that there was any money missing from the multimillion-rand renovation project – which should have seen the house turned into a monument honouring the struggle icon, who died this week.
According to eNCA, five years ago in his state of the nation address, then-president Jacob Zuma announced that the house, which was where Madikizela-Mandela was exiled by the apartheid government from 1977 to 1986, would be turned into a museum. The broadcaster reported in September last year that a further R6-million would be allocated to the project, which never got off the ground, and which a former aide to Madikizela-Mandela called a "revolving cash cow".
The former aide, MK Malefane, reportedly said: "An ANC member could sit in this room and say to her face and to all of us, 'I made money out of it, I had no intention of building a museum in your name. I made money, I got my cut and that was it.' Very few people get to know about [the tender], and it is obviously designed as such that someone will then solely be the only party that submits the tender and gets given the money and then the money is shared."
HuffPost SA visited the house this week, just 60 kilometres from Bloemfontein in Free State. There is a list of contractors on a board outside the property, but the house lies between unkempt grass and tall weeds, with no windows and no doors. It is reportedly a haven for criminals, despite a guard station recently having been erected there.
There is evidence of lit fires inside, and the walls are stained with graffiti.
ENCA reported that Free State's provincial treasury allocated funds to the project as far back as 2008, but the local municipality could not produce annual reports to Parliament last year to explain what happened to the money, as its archives had apparently burnt down.
But on Monday night, ANC secretary-general Magashule insisted there was no malfeasance regarding the project, and claimed that the Mandela family supported the provincial government in its efforts.
According to TimesLive, he said, "The family clearly knows and we know that there hasn't been any money [stolen] ... That museum in Brandfort will definitely happen. There is no government money which has been lost anywhere. The family is on board from 2007, so what the media is saying is something else which we do not know."
The refurbishments should have begun a day after Madikizela-Mandela died, TimesLive reported.
On Tuesday, the Free State Public Protector's office responded to a complaint about the house by the DA, saying Parliament should investigate the matter.
JUST IN: Free State Public Protector says the allegations of "perceived allegations of corruption" in relation to the #WinnieMandela Museum project in Brandfort should be investigated by the NCOP & SCOPA. @eNCApic.twitter.com/wC2f3PbYBT— Michael (@TheMikeAppel) April 4, 2018
According to News24, a contractor was only appointed in November 2013, seven years after the project was allocated funds, but the enterprise stalled again a year later, when the contractor failed to do any work. More than R600,000 was spent on "consultancy fees". By 2016, government was still in the process of appointing a second contractor. Unspent funds to the value of R1.2-million lay dormant in the account of the department of arts and culture at the time.