Members of opposition parties lambasted the Department of Arts and Culture’s (DAC) Deputy Minister, Maggie Sotyu, with questions and accusations on the alleged failure on the part of the government to turn Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s Brandfort home into a museum.
This was during a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) sitting on Tuesday.
The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Chris Hattingh said that the more ministers provide answers to questions, the more new questions are raised. Hattingh further said that according to information contained in a report by the Public Protector, funds exceeding R14 million were allocated by the national DAC and the Free State provincial government to fix the house more than ten years ago. Yet, ten years later, the home remains a far cry from a memorial site.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) Nkagisang Koni accused the ANC of squandering the money and using it for its own benefit, much to the peril of taxpayers and the late Madikizela-Mandela, who died without seeing the monument.
Responding to Hattingh’s questions how much the DAC has already spent on renovations at the Brandfort site, Sotyu said the idea to convert the house into a museum was reportedly conceptualised in 2007. This was meant to be undertaken by the Free State Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (DSACR), however, the DSACR requested that the DAC should assist it with completing a number of incomplete heritage sites, including the house in Brandfort.
Then in the 2011/2012 financial year, the DAC took over a project to convert the home into a museum from the Free State Department of Sports, Arts, Culture, and Recreation (DSACR). The Deputy Minister stated that the DAC could only account for money used from 2012 onwards and not prior to that as the project was under DSACR. She further said that DAC is not aware of what had happened with the project from the time when the DSACR took it on and her department had subsequently sent questions to former Free State premier, Ace Magashule, to provide information that would shed light on this.
During a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) sitting on Tuesday, Sotyu revealed that R3 million had been allocated for this project and from this sum, R1 858 195.71 was paid to the Independent Development Trust (IDT), which was appointed as the implementing agent for this project. This money was paid over as part of a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed by DAC, DSACR, and the IDT on 18 July 2012 to facilitate the completion of the sites, including the construction of the Winnie Mandela House. The site was handed over to the IDT in November 2013 and a total of R593 543 was spent on the project, with R476 000 going to an architect, while R117 543 was paid to a contractor for the preliminary site establishment. Then, in November 2016, the department terminated its agreement with the IDT as the project had stalled and was at a standstill. This leaves about R1, 2 million that the IDT did not spend. Sotyu revealed during the sitting that this money was never utilised and remains in the Trust and now with the interest gathered on these funds, this amount now stands at about R1,8 million. These funds will now remain with the Trust until the DAC instructs the IDT on what to do with the funds as well as where to pay them over.