#FSbudget: Action demanded on Winnie’s Brandfort house

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
The controversial Winnie Madikizela-Mandela house in the Free State town of Brandfort has once again raised eyebrows.

This, as opposition parties in the Provincial Legislature on Tuesday called on the Provincial Government to invest in the community of Brandfort and ensure that plans to refurbish the struggle stalwart’s house into a state of the art museum materialise.

Members of the EFF and DA have, during the tabling of the provincial Arts and Culture Department’s budget, called on MEC Dimakatso Mahasa to pull up her socks and ensure that she works hand-in-hand with the national department to ensure that construction for the museum kicks off and reaches completion.

The house, earmarked to be a museum, was where Madikizela-Mandela lived when she was banished by the apartheid regime. It has been a white elephant for over a decade and has drawn much controversy over the years, with community members alleging it was a hub of criminal activity and many accusing former premier and now ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, of embezzling funds earmarked for it. The EFF’s Chairperson, Mandisa Makheseni, and the DA’s James Letuka told the House Mahasa and the entire province cannot sit back while the residents of Brandfort remains at the periphery whilst the house, which could potentially create jobs for many, is left dilapidated.

According to the national Department of Arts and Culture, the process of turning the house into a museum will be completed by November 4.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa, prior to the May 8 election, during a media briefing held in Brandfort, refuted allegations that funds for this project were looted and that his department was only paying attention to the project as a build-up to the May elections.

He announced there were processes in place to recuperate the funds allocated to this project and hold those who failed to execute the task to book.

Mthethwa explained the project plan, among others, included the restoration of the house and bombed clinic, and converting them to interpretative spaces, plus the construction of a multipurpose centre.

OFM News previously reported that former Free State ANC interim coordinator, William Bulwane, who is now the deputy chairperson, admitted R3 million was allocated to the project; R204 000 was spent on designs, with R2,7 million redirected to renovate the Wesleyan Church – where the ANC was established – ahead of the party’s centenary celebrations in 2012.

Responding to calls for the provincial government to take action with regard to the restoration of the house and job creation in the area, Mahasa nonetheless said the project is entirely in the hands of the national department and they cannot do much about it.