NEWS & ANALYSIS

Govt must come clean on R300m "grass cutting" programme - DA FState

Leona Kleynhans says about 20 companies appointed in 2016, 10 of which have direct links to ANC politicians

DA requests FS Department of Police, Roads and Transport briefing on R300 million grass cutting contract scandal

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Infrastructure Committee, Ms Sarah Moleleki, requesting her to call the Free State Provincial Department of Police, Roads and Transport to brief the committee on the very serious allegations of corruption involving grass cutting contracts to the value of R300 million within the Department of Police, Roads and Transport.

The DA specifically wants to know the details of each company appointed, the value of each contract, the amounts paid to date, the benefits extended to these companies, how they were identified and appointed and who their directors are, what services each were to deliver and whether these were, in fact, delivered.

It is alleged that contracts were awarded to companies linked to family members of former Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, and the current premier, Sisi Ntombela. Magasule’s younger brother, Ezekiel Magashule, Premier Sisi Ntombela’s two sons, Duduza and Sibusiso Ntombela, and the daughter of the Mayor of Ngwathe (Parys), Joey Mochela, all benefited from these lucrative contracts.

The host of contracts were part of a provincial government empowerment drive, but it appears that it was nothing but a scam to reward politically connected ANC cadres and family members of ANC politicians. Under this scheme, about 20 companies were appointed in 2016, 10 of which have direct links to ANC politicians. These companies allegedly received bakkies, equipment and trailers from the provincial government.

Under the ANC we have seen how politicians and politically connected cadres have benefited massively from lucrative government contracts disguised as empowerment initiatives, from property deals benefiting Ace Magashule’s daughter, Thoko Malembe to the tune of R150 million for an RDP development contract in Bethlehem, and his close friend and confident, Blacky Seoe, whose company entered into a R115 million lease deal with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, to the Guptas who siphoned off more than R200 million from the Vrede Dairy Project.

It is a real travesty of justice when transformation initiatives meant to address the imbalances stemming from the legacy of Apartheid are abused to line the pockets of uncaring ANC politicians and the expense of beneficiaries.

When Sisi Ntombela was elected premier of the Free State the DA maintained that she is nothing but a proxy for Ace Magashule’s crony patronage network. These latest allegations lend credence to that assertion.

The DA will use all mechanisms at its disposal in the Free State Legislature to expose the extent of this corruption and hold ANC politicians and cadres accountable, like we have done with the R120 million Ramkraal Legislature Complex and the R230 million Vrede Dairy Project scandals.

If the people of the Free State want a government committed to job creation, economic growth, good governance focussed on service delivery and transparent and meaningful transformation, then the DA remains the only choice in next year’s election. Only the DA can bring real change to the Free State.

Statement issued by Leona Kleynhans, DA Member in the Free State Provincial Legislature, 11 July 2018