[imagesource: Gianluigi Guercia / AFP/Getty Images]
This past weekend, the ANC gathered in Kimberley to celebrate its 108th birthday party.
There were some iffy cakes, there were some iffy dance moves, and there was all the usual talk of serving the South African people to the best of the party’s abilities.
Which, as we know, doesn’t extend as far as putting our tax money to decent use.
The latest case of squandering what could, and should, be used to improve the living conditions of South Africans centres around the 2018 funerals of ANC legend Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and two other party stalwarts.
As the Sunday Times points out, these were not cheap affairs:
The funerals of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and two other ANC struggle stalwarts cost taxpayers R76m in what the department of public works has branded a giant rip-off…
For the funerals of Madikizela-Mandela and [Zola ] Skweyiya [above], the department spent R7m to hire padded chairs, leather couches and scatter cushions; R2.47m for draping; R470,000 for serviettes; R695,000 for orchestra equipment and R30,000 to dig three graves.
R470 000 on serviettes? I don’t know why that expense, out of those listed above, irks me so much, but it really does.
For Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral, which cost R37 million (along with the memorial), taxpayers forked out R420,000 for 3 500 serviettes, hired at R60 per napkin per day.
For Skweyiya’s funeral, which cost just shy of R29 million, taxpayers paid R50 000 for 500 serviettes.
Worse still, that giant bill doesn’t include the cost of hiring Soweto’s Orlando Stadium, which will add a decent chunk of change.
After these costs came to light, public works & infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille has instructed that charges be laid against the company that staged the three funerals (the two above and that of Billy Modise) last year.
That would be Crocia Events, who have come out swinging, saying the company actually could have charged a great deal more:
[Sammy Mashita, project manager of Crocia Events] said the department would have paid “R274m for services rendered” had his company not pointed out inefficiencies in the tender.
“This was because of the stupidity of those who compiled the tender specifications. They were more than willing to pay that amount even after we warned them of their glaring stupidity,” he told the Sunday Times this week.
Mashita may be covering his company’s tracks, but he also may well have a point.
In an audit that took place last year, irregularities were found in the spending around the three funerals, but insiders say that other state funerals were even more costly:
Here’s a source familiar with the investigation:
“Just three funerals cost R76m. Other funerals, which were far bigger, saw hundreds of millions of rands apparently stolen through inflated invoices,” the source said.
“The billings and payments went unchecked for years. That’s why these investigations are so important. It’s vital that financial limits are set to stop the looting.”
It’s unreal, isn’t it?
De Lille has denied that her department would have paid the R274 million Mashita mentioned, but even R76 million should be enough to make voters sick to their stomachs.
South Africans are looking at a tax hike this year, and knowing where that ends up being squandered is just going to make forking over that money each month all the more painful.
For an in-depth look at the investigations into the funeral spending, read the full article in the Sunday Times.
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