Premier Oscar Mabuyane Caught In Kickback Scandal

Premier Oscar Mabuyane Caught In Kickback Scandal
FINDINGS RELEASED: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has been accused of taking kickbacks of more than a million rand from a company that unlawfully made millions from hosting a memorial service for struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report on Friday in which Mabuyane was implicated in shady deals.

“We investigated allegations of corruption, maladministration or misuse of public funds by senior and executive government officials in the Eastern Cape Provincial Government departments (ECPG) and the Mbizana Local Municipality,” said Mkhwebane.

The service for Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away on 2 April 2018, was held in her hometown of Mbizana eight days later.

The  public protector said investigations into a complaint of possible corruption found that Mabuyane had allegedly benefited from more than R1.1 million said to have been siphoned off from the Mbizana municipality.

The report also found that Mabuyane received payments for upgrades to his Bunkers Hill home, valued at R450 000.

Matters came to a head after media reports said a Mthatha businessman, a Mr. Bam, deposed a damning affidavit at the Butterworth Police Station on 27 April 2019.

Bam’s affidavit alleged that Mabuyane and several MECs received hundreds of thousands of rand from a deal that was made with the departments, the municipality and various other service providers or private companies and individuals.

The affidavit alleged that Mabuyane, who was, at the time, MEC for economic development, environmental affairs and tourism; the MEC for transport, safety and liaison, W Tikana Gxotiwe; and the former MEC for human settlements, Babalo Madikizela (now the MEC for public works), improperly benefitted from the alleged misuse of public funds.

The report said the memorial service was carried out improperly and outside any identifiable supply chain management processes.

As a result, Mbizana Local Taxi Association and/or Koo Construction and Projects rendered the transport service for the memorial service.

For their part in the unlawful arrangement, Madikizela allegedly got R350 000 and the African National Congress received a donation of R280 000 from the ill-gotten proceeds.

The report also found there was an irresistible inference that Madikizela knew that the money was derived from unlawful activity.

Mkhwebane said there was reasonable apprehension or probability that Mabuyane also knew or reasonably ought to have known the same.

Reacting to the report findings, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said “Premier Mabuyane must immediately tender his resignation” in light of the damning report that has found he was on the receiving end of money siphoned off from the Mbizana Municipality.

“The report is also damning of MEC for public works, Madikizela, who should also step down with immediate effect,” said Andrew Whitfield, the DA Eastern Cape provincial chairperson.

“It is galling that the premier and his executive can walk around and preach about tackling corruption, good governance and consequence management when he himself has had his hand in the cookie jar the entire time!

“The premier is quick to talk about dehumanising residents and undermining their constitutional rights.

“How many poor people from Mbizana are suffering, while the premier relaxes in his luxurious multi-million-rand home, paid for with money stolen from the public purse that was meant to improve their lives?”