Former finance minister Trevor Manuel launched a scathing attack on former Free State premier Ace Magashule on Thursday night, slamming him for the delays in converting Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's Brandfort house into a museum while funds were diverted to the Gupta's Estina dairy project.
Millions were budgeted for the conversion of the home to which Madikizela-Mandela was banished by the apartheid regime, but the house stands dilapidated and empty.
According to News24, Manuel told mourners at the struggle stalwart's memorial service in Cape Town on Thursday night that Ace Magashule was to blame.
"The restoration of the house in Brandfort was budgeted for years ago. [Ace] Magashule has taken 11 years to fulfil his commitment," he reportedly said.
But money appeared to be no problem when the Gupta's came knocking, Manuel said.
According to Business Day, he said: "This is the same [former] premier who protests the approvals for the Estina dairy [project] totalling some R220-million in two weeks," he said emphatically, raising two fingers in the air, to thunderous applause.
"This is the same former premier whose daughter is a beneficiary of a R130-million housing contract‚ but now informs us that this minuscule project to restore the house to which our mother was banished has taken 11 years and can't get done.
"He says, 'Well, everybody knows the money hasn't disappeared.' Where is the money that was budgeted for? And even the numbers he talks about for the restoration of that very basic house‚ for the R3-million he talks about‚ what does he want to do? Does he want to gold plate the window frames? Does he want to put in a jacuzzi? Does he also want to air condition the house? No‚ that must remain that place of pain," he reportedly said.
"This should be a place that you take your children and civil servants to remind them of Mandela's words: 'Never, never, never again.'"
Manuel expressed Madikizela-Mandela's disappointment with the ANC. The Citizen quoted him as saying, "She said this ANC is such a disappointment. It has become the den of thieves. I'm sure your father is turning in his grave."
He reportedly told the story of how Madikizela-Mandela had "held me [Manuel] for a very long time", when he visited her at Brandfort in the 1980s, a "crazy act" that "created this bond between us".
He also said Madikizela-Mandela had helped his wife, Maria Ramos, when she was struggling at Transnet, which people treated as "their inheritance".
Madikizela-Mandela reportedly invited Ramos for lunch.
"And after lunch Mam' Winnie said to Maria, I want you to watch this. She put her arm around Maria and walked from office to office and said to the occupants of the offices: 'This is my daughter, mess with her you mess with her mother.' Peace was immediately established at Transnet."
Manuel recounted visiting an ailing Madikizela-Mandela in hospital last year.
"And when we went in and [stood] on either side of the bed, touched her hands, she opened her eyes and giggled and said, 'I knew you would come.'"
He said it was time to rededicate society to Madikizela-Mandela's "spirit of no compromise".
"In that admission and in spirit of mam' Winnie, we must all recommit to aluta continua [the struggle continues]."
ENCA reported that a former Madikizela-Mandela aide once called the Brandfort project a "revolving cash cow ... 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 amid 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.
On Monday night, Magashule denied that there were problems with the project.
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."