Auditor General to investigate R 8.3 million Mandela statue

The provincial government is accused of using the late struggle icon’s name to do “dubious financial dealings”.

The Democratic Alliance in the Mpumalanga province is rushing to the office of the Auditor to ask him to investigate how R 8.3 million was used in the procurement of a bronze statue of former President Nelson Mandela.

The statue was erected outside the Riverside government complex.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni and arts and culture MEC Thandi Shongwe unveiled the 6 meter high statue of Mandela.

“One of the rejected bids would have costed a total of R 2.7 million but the provincial department of culture sports and recreation ultimately chose a company that charged over three times that amount,” DA leader Jane Sithole said in a statement.

“Culture, sports and recreation MEC, Thandi Shongwe, is no stranger to controversy related to hyper-inflated tenders as she has been linked to multiple inflated tenders during her time as speaker of the provincial legislature,” said Sithole.

She said the reason they have now asked the Auditor-General to investigate the tender matter which caused an outcry in the province was the “ANC’s tendency to use Nelson Mandela’s name and memory as a disguise for dubious financial dealings such as the R 70 million given to Carol Bouwer’s Company for Nelson Mandela’s memorial services along with R 5 million for a Nelson Mandela video commissioned by the Office of the Premier that has never seen the light of day”.

“The people of Mpumalanga continue to be burdened with rising unemployment, inadequate healthcare facilities and poor service delivery that have ensured that thousands of people remain in the clutches of poverty. All of this, while the provincial government chooses to protect corruption and divert public money to projects that will not benefit the people of this province,” she said, adding that they were writing to the AG to ensure public money was not abused.

EFF leader Collen Sedibe said he estimated the statue cost close to R 20 million and wondered how much Shongwe “pocketed”.

“If the statue itself is R 8.3 million and with the ceremony where they hired tents, catering and bought ANC T-shirts, we are talking of R 20 million,” Sedibe said.

“We can’t have Mandela statues everywhere when our people are deep in poverty,” he said.

Mtshweni said the unveiling of the statue was important as it will show the future generation the role Madiba played in liberating South Africa.

“This is a way to thank and show how Mandela played a part in our liberation as a country,” she said.

Meanwhile, Facebook users said the statue didn’t look like Mandela.

(edited by NN)

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MP govt wants increase in youth-owned farms

The programme to get more young people to own farms is called ‘Fortune-40’, meant for people under the age of 40.

The Mpumalanga government wants an increase in farms owned by young people in the province.

They say now they have managed to get 14 -youth-owned farms running but now want this increased to 29.

“The programme was announced by Premier David Mabuza in his state of the province address in 2015 and recruited the youth into cooperatives and placed under the stewardship of an incubator programme,” a statement released by provincial spin doctor Zibonele Mncwango read.

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Mncwango said a provincial government meeting on Wednesday also approved the launch of the Smart Citizen Application.

“The Smart Citizen Project is a service delivery framework in which citizens are able to report service delivery issues to government through different channels such as mobile phones, social media, online and over the counter,” he said.

Government officials will use this system “to monitor requests, track the efficiency of the resolution process and identify trends for improved planning”, Mncwango said.

The SmartApp will begin to work from 20 August 2017, he added.

(edited by MLM)

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Acting Premier Refilwe Mtsweni declares official funeral for Ray Phiri

Legendary jazz artist Ray Phiri will be afforded a special provincial funeral.

Acting Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni has declared a special provincial funeral for the late Ray Phiri.

Ray Phiri lost his battle with lung cancer in the early hours of Wednesday morning at a hospital in Mbombela.

Mtsweni delivered the announcement immediately after she was sworn in by Judge Francis Legodi as the province’s premier on Wednesday afternoon.

Mtsweni is standing in for Premier David Mabuza after he took a “short leave”, according to his spokesman Zibonele Mncwango.

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“It is with a heavy heart that the Mpumalanga provincial government confers our condolences on the untimely passing of Mr Ray Phiri in the early hours of Wednesday after a valiant fight against lung cancer,” Mtsweni said.

“As a final homage to this great son of the Mpumalanga soil, it is imperative that the Mpumalanga provincial government pays homage to this icon.

“To this end, and in honour of the stature that Mr Phiri brought to the Mpumalanga province it gives me great pleasure to announce that Mr Phiri shall be granted a special provincial funeral.” she said.

(edited by MLM)

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Budget Speech: Kholwane points to slow growth as cause for concern

The MEC delivered this year’s budget speech and looked at provincial economic challenges.

Mpumalanga economic development MEC Eric Kholwane has pointed to the slow economic growth, saying the pace at which the province’s economy was growing was very slow and undermined government’s efforts in addressing issues of unemployment, poverty and inequalities .

Kholwane delivered the 2017/2018 budget speech at the Themba Senamela stadium in Middelburg on Tuesday afternoon this week.

He said both global and local economic growths were very slow and many industries “are in distress”, which caused high unemployment in the province and made job creation to be “far below” government’s target.

“Youth unemployment and especially female youth unemployment, is disappointingly high,” Kholwane said.

He said slow economic growth last year impacted seriously and people lost jobs.

“The global economic environment has been unusually difficult, more especially to developing nations such as ours,” he said.

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“There are however signs that a more sustainable economic recovery might be under way,” he said.

He said growing the provincial economy and addressing the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality faced by the province should “remain a top priority”.

“Global growth is projected to improve from 3.1% in 2016 to 3.4% in 2017,” Kholwane said.

Kholwane points to slow growth as cause for concern

“There are concerns about the relatively high inflation rate, weak business confidence and challenges in some of the key economic sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, all which recorded a negative growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 according to the latest GDP figures.

“The average annual growth rate for our province for the period 2015 – 2020 remains relatively low at less than 2 percent,” said Kholwane.

He said even though this was the case the provincial economy was expected to grow in accordance with national economic growth-line, “at a rate of more or less 1% in 2017″.

“Bearing this in mind, the economic growth prospects of the province will be heavily influenced by the performance of the mining industry, which contributes more than 25 percent to the provincial economy”.

Kholwane said the slow economic growth in 2016 was worrying and “the high job losses especially in trade, construction, finance and agriculture industries are particularly worrying as they negate our efforts of addressing poverty and unemployment in our province”.

“We are however grateful that some major corporations through strategic partnerships are making a concerted effort to assist in job creation as highlighted in the State of the Province Address,” he said.

(edited by ZK)

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Mpumalanga govt invites filmmakers to submit work

The arts and culture department says this is an opportunity for those who want to break through into the industry as filmmakers.

Mpumalanga Arts and Culture MEC Norah Mahlangu has invited filmmakers across the province to submit what they have produced so far.

The submitted material will then be screened at the cinema during an event called the ‘Mpumalanga Film Marathon’.

Spokeswoman Sbongile Nkosi said this will take place on 31 March 2017 at White River’s Casterbridge Cinema, just outside Mbombela.

“Filmmakers who wish to be part of the festival need to submit their work before Wednesday next week, 15 March.

“This is a great opportunity to Mpumalanga filmmakers to break in the industry and have their work shown to a large audience,” she said.

Government wants local film-makers to show their skills and creativity and film-makers get the rare platform “to share knowledge and skills on the industry”.

“Filmmakers will interact with various film funding organisations and also be exposed to new trends in the industry,” added Nkosi.

Submissions must be made at:

– Ikhamanga Building (Building 5), First Floor, 7  Government Boulevard, Riverside Park or ask Zenande Nzama on 013 766 5204.

-Art and Culture Nkangala Regional Office in KwaMhlanga or ask Lucky Sibiya on 013 947 2880.

– Art and Culture Gert Sibande Regional Office in Ermelo or ask Sakhile Mshayisa on 017 811 6196.

(edited by MLM)

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