Mandela still standing tall – but is “fixed” now

Tata was fixed at no cost, the Mpumalanga MEC says.

The Mpumalanga legislature this week heard that the statue of former President Nelson Mandela outside it has now been fixed and this was done at no cost.

Arts and Culture MEC Thandi Shongwe was asked the question about the statue by the DA’s Bosman Grobler during a debate on Premier Refilwe Mtshweni’s State of the Province Address.

Grobler said that they have noticed “minor changes to the face of the statue of Nelson Mandela” and wanted to know at what cost the changes were made.

ALSO RELATED: Auditor-General to investigate expensive Mandela statue

He also asked whether the tender was advertised and required also the name of the company that was appointed.

Shongwe stood and told the house that they had done everything in their powers to make sure the stature is “fixed”.

“We went back to the same company that was appointed the statue and we told them to fix it,” said Shongwe.

Mandela still standing tall - but is "fixed" now

“And there were other people who were complaining about the shoulder. We have fixed it also. And also those who were complaining about his shirt, they said he was not ironed and now we have ironed him,” Shongwe said on Tuesday.

The statue was erected on 28 September 2018 and was unveiled by both Mtshweni and Shongwe. It first caused a public outcry for its cost of R8.3 million in the face of poverty but soon afterwards attention shifted to the way it was designed.

Many people began saying the man in the statue didn’t look like Mandela.

Mandela still standing tall - but is "fixed" now

The statue of Mandela before it was ‘fixed’

SEE ALSO: Mtshweni orders Thandi Shongwe to remove ‘deficient’ Mandela stature

Shongwe said she worked with Mtshweni in making sure that “we address the deficiencies” on the statue.

The debate at the legislature was heated – with the opposition party accusing Mtshweni’s speech of not addressing the issue of corruption and youth unemployment.

The EFF and DA said her SOPA didn’t have the “how” her government intends to work in this financial and her programme of action for youth employment.

(edited by ZK)

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Mtshweni “applying her mind” on Thandi Shongwe’s conduct

There’s a growing call for her to recall the MEC.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni is said to be “applying her mind” on growing calls for her to fire arts and culture MEC Thandi Shongwe.

She replied to a letter written by the EFF’s Collen Sedibe titled ‘Recalling of the MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Hon BT Shongwe’ and said that the matter was receiving her attention.

Sedibe wrote the letter on 15 October 2018 to Mtshweni complaining about a string of fraud and corruption allegations levelled against Shongwe.

In the letter, Sedibe wrote of a “recent proven allegation” of how Shongwe allegedly used over R60 000 in one month on her government cellphone.

Other allegations stem from the time he was the speaker of the Mpumalanga legislature beginning from 2014 to 2018.

During this time, Shongwe is said to have presided over tender irregularities.

ALSO RELATED: Sedibe says the Scopa is useless – and that’s why they went to cops to lay charges against Shongwe

The tender irregularities are captured in an Auditor-General’s reports and involves R30 million.

R19.6 million of this R30 million was awarded to a company called ‘Frugacode CC’ to provide security and data integrity and the Auditor-General found that this company was not really supposed to get the tender because it used a SAP accreditation that was not registered under its name.

The other money – R9.9 million – was given to a company called ‘Junox 210 CC’ despite being disqualified during the bidding process for not having a tax clearance certificate.

The EFF also accuse Shongwe of –

– Misusing taxpayers’ money in the R8.3 million procurement of the flawed Nelson Mandela statue

– Spending taxpayers’ money for hotel rooms, T-shirts and petrol while attending Prophet Bushiri’s church in Gauteng

– Having fraud and corruption charges opened but still continuing to hold office

“The conduct of Mrs BT Shongwe as a public representative is not honourable and compromises the principle and standards of good governance, corrupt-free, open and transparent government that is accountable to the people,” Sedibe said in the letter to Mtshweni.

Mtshweni’s office replied and said that they were looking at the matter.

“The honourable Premier is applying her mind to the matter,” they said in an e-mail reply to Sedibe.

(edited MLM)

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EFF, DA gang up against sports MEC Thandi Shongwe

The EFF in the Mpumalanga province has written to Premier Refilwe Mtshweni to have sports MEC Thandi Shongwe recalled while the DA has written to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate allegations that Shongwe received a R1.5 million “bribe” for the procurement of the Nelson Mandela statue.

In their memorandum to Mtshweni, the EFF’s Collen Sedibe says the former speaker’s conduct “compromises the principle and standards of good governance, corrupt free, open and transparent government”.

“Pursuant to the number of fraud and corruption cases laid against honourable BT Shongwe during her tenure as the speaker of the provincial legislature and the recent proven allegation of abuse of office as an MEC and misuse of the state cell phone to an amount of more than R60 000 a month, the EFF hereby request the honourable Premier [Ms] RM Mtsweni to recall Mrs BT Shongwe as the MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture with immediate effect,” Sedibe writes.

ALSO RELATED: ‘Scopa is useless – reason we went to police’ – Sedibe

The DA’s Jane Sithole says they have written to Mkhwebane to ask her to investigate allegations that Shongwe “pocketed a R1.5 million bribe during the procurement of the Mandela statue”.

ALSO SEE: Auditor-General to investigate R8.3 million Mandela statue

“During a recent sitting of the Mpumalanga provincial legislature, MEC Shongwe couldn’t admit or deny that she accepted a bribe but chose to rather try and embarrass other members of the Legislature instead of answering the question.

“MEC 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,” Sithole said in a statement.

Shongwe’s spokeswoman Sibongile Nkosi didn’t answer her phone on Tuesday morning.

Sithole in a statement said Shongwe used to “enjoy the perks of [then Premier DD] Mabuza’s protection”.

“The Public Protector must do a full investigation into MEC Shongwe so that she can pay back any money gained from corruption. We will continue to monitor this situation in our effort to build One South Africa For All,” she said.

(edited by ZK)

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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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Sedibe: ‘Scopa is useless – the reason we went to police’

They want her to answer for fraud and corruption that occured while she was in charge.

The EFF says they decided to approach the cops and not the Select Committee of Public Account to lay charges against former legislature speaker Thandi Shongwe because this committee “doesn’t have teeth”.

“Instead it protects and covers up departments and corrupt officials, so to raise the matter with the Scopa is not going to make sense. The cops are better,” spokesman Collen Sedibe said.

“It is tantamount to reporting a crime to the very same criminal and expect the criminal to arrest, charge and sentence themselves,” he said.

Case number 6/8/2018 is registered with the police in Mbombela against Shongwe, legislature secretary Linda Mwale and finance officer Mbuso Mpika.

The EFF case is based on the findings of the Auditor-General concerning a R9,9 million tender and another, worth R19,6 million.

The R9,9 million was for the supply of photocopiers to the Mpumalanga legislature for a period of three years but the Auditor-General found that despite being disqualified during the bidding process for not having tax clearance certificate the officials quietly awarded the Junox 210 CC the tender.

ALSO RELATED: Thandi Shongwe’s state Merc had ‘minor damages’

Frugacode CC was awarded the R19,6 million tender for security and data integrity, City Press reportedand the Auditor-General found that this company was not really supposed to get the tender because it used a SAP accreditation that was not registered under its name.

Police spokesman Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe confirmed the case against Shongwe, Mwale and Mpika had in fact been opened and was opened this month. He said they are busy looking at it.

Sedibe said: “The case was opened against Thandi Shongwe because she was an executive authority at the time of the fraud and corruption, meaning she should have acted against the secretary of the legislature who was reporting to her directly. Moreover, the Auditor-General also mentioned her in the investigation report.

“The EFF is very clear in its founding manifesto and on non-negotiable pillar number 7 that we want a corrupt-free government that is open, transparent and accountable to the people without fear or favour,” he said.

The legislature said they will allow the cops to do their work since the matter is not with Scopa.

(edited by MLM)

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