Sisi Ntombela: Will you investigate Ace's corrupt patronage network? - Roy Jankielsohn

DA FState LO says if new premier wants to make a meaningful difference she will have to ensure justice

Sisi Ntombela: Will you investigate Ace's corrupt patronage network?

26 April 2018

At last the province is, at least in physical presence, rid of the corrupt Ace Magashule. His premiership has cost the province dearly and his lingering presence exists through his various factional political appointments in government.

If the new Premier wants to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our people she will have to make a commitment to ensure justice.

Will she ensure that all information regarding the asbestos contracts involving Blackhead Consulting will be investigated? It is alleged that the Ignatius Mpambani was gunned down in Sandton in his R3 million Bentley vehicle, in broad daylight, due to his involvement in this Free State contract with the new Premier’s previous department?

Will she investigate and expose the Free State Development Corporation’s role in securing a R9 million property deal in Qwa-Qwa involving for Ace Magashule’s daughter, Thoko Malembe?

Will she investigate and expose the alleged interference of Ace Magashule through an instruction that a company Unital Holdings, in which this same daughter had a 30% share, must receive a housing development contract at Vogelfontein in Dihlabeng Municipality to the value of R150 million?

Will she investigate the Free State Development Corporation’s role in the Village Square rental scandal in Bloemfontein involving the company Ithuteng Consulting from Parys, which allegedly pockets the rental income that should benefit SMMEs in the Free State?

Will she ensure that those involved in the R1 billion housing scandal, implicating Hlaudi Motsoaneng and Minister Fikile Mbalula’s wife, are brought to book?

Will she investigate and expose the role of Ace Magshule in the Sedgars R9,5 million deal involving supplying T-shirts and blankets during the 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament exposed in court documents of Abiel Mokotso’s company, Bakamoso Media House? This investigation is deliberately being squashed by the SAPS in Bethlehem.

Will she investigate and expose the role of Ace Magashule and former MECs for Agriculture Mosebenzi Zwane and Mamiki Qabathe in the Vrede Dairy scandal? They were the political architects who implemented and approved funding for this project that only benefited the Guptas and their companies while the 80 beneficiaries were and still are side-lined.

These are but a few of the issues that require investigation by the provincial government in whose offices and files all the information lies. The willingness of the new Premier to investigate and expose the corruption and rot of the Magashule regime will determine whether she will be remembered as a fighter for justice, or a Magashule puppet. We will monitor her actions closely.

Speaker, the Office of the Premier receives a budget of R611 million while the Free State Provincial Legislature only receives R253 million. The Premier should be able to shed of at least half of Magashule’s bloated administration in the Department of the Premier, that employs and empowers various cadres and cronies, and allocate these funds to assist ailing departments like Health and Education.

In this respect, the Premier must heed the old African proverb that says that, “If you close your mind to facts, you will learn through accidents.”

The DA and other opposition parties will give our Premier the facts as our people experience them on the ground, her reaction to these facts will determine her success in office.

The Free State receives very little value from the bloated office of the Premier, as we have seen in committees where reporting by the Premier’s monitoring unit are plagiarised repetitions departmental reports.

We know that the previous Premier abused the budget to promote himself, to buy honorary doctorates, to travel abroad, to entertain local and foreign delegations with no visible benefit to the province and to extend his patronage network for factional purposes.

We hope that Premier Ntombela will not follow the example of Ace Magashule who ran the Free State as his personal fiefdom by using the cadre policy as an instrument to extend his network of cronies and patronage.

Speaker, I cannot do justice to this debate without voicing the DA’s concern about the new Premier’s track record in government. In this respect I must repeat what I said previously in this budget cycle. Being the former MEC responsible for Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements in the Free State Province she performed dismally.

She left this position to become Premier amid a crisis within Free State municipalities that jointly owe Eskom R6,3 billion and water boards over R2 billion. At the same time residents’ health is at risk due to pollution from dysfunctional municipal sewerage systems and waste management sites and corruption induced poor service delivery has destroyed local economies. Her track record in Human Settlements is similarly dismal with 11 000 housing units incomplete and a backlog of 60 000 title deeds.

Let us just look at the Premier’s home base, Mafube Municipality where massive fraud has taken place. The deductions for UIF, pensions and medical aid schemes of municipal employees were not paid over. This is fraud!

The former Municipal Manager was replaced by not one but two administrators, while he received his full pay while sitting at home until his contract expired. This is fraud!

Residents who pay for electricity are threatened with Eskom power cuts due to the non-payment by the municipality. The municipality receives the money, but does not pay it over to Eskom. This is fraud!

As the responsible MEC she was unresponsive and refused to recognise the urgency of our municipal crisis in the Free State, especially here in her own municipality of Mafube.

Instead of tackling poor performing and corrupt mayors and municipal managers head on she preferred to shake her head in disbelief and utter ANC rhetoric when questioned in portfolio committee meetings of the legislature. Her legacy as MEC responsible for municipal services is dismal.

Last month our new Premier showed that she is no different to Magashule when she shared a stage with him at an inauguration party that cost R6 million. We are still trying to calculate the costs of a cancelled gala dinner and lost working hours of provincial government and municipal employees who closed their offices and were bussed to Bloemfontein to serve as a rent-a-crowd.

The R6 million could have paid the salaries of 43 staff nurses for a year to bolster our ailing Department of Health. It could also have built between 20 and 30 RDP houses for needy families.

Speaker, a democracy is as effective as the opposition parties. The DA will continue to play our oversight role in this Legislature under a new Premier, in a similar fashion as under the previous Premier.

We are committed to the welfare of our people in the Free State and will not be intimidated to keep quiet about corruption that steals the livelihoods of our people. Our people deserve jobs, effective services and an accountable administration.

The DA will continue to play our oversight role by holding the government accountable for their misdemeanours while we prepare for government.

Isssued by Roy JankielsohnLeader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature, 26 April 2018