Public Protector meets with Bapo ba Mogale community

 Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela is expecting the North West provincial government to furnish her with documents relating to the administration of the affairs of the Bapo ba Mogale traditional community as early as next week.

Briefing the community on Friday, the Public Protector said this move, which follows her meeting last week with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Richard Baloyi and MEC China Dodovu, will expedite her investigation into the community’s concerns.
“We have been requesting these documents from the provincial government, without success despite numerous promises. However, following my meeting with Minister Baloyi and the MEC Dodovu last week, I am confident that we will receive the documents soon,” she said.
The Public Protector is investigating allegations of systematic looting of the collective resources of the community, including funds held in a so called “D account”. The community wants the Public Protector to establish how much is in the account, how have the funds in the account been spent and the identity of people who have benefited from the said funds.
She has also been asked to look into the chieftaincy matter, including issues of succession following the retirement of the chief and the appointment of several administrators who had to run the affairs of the community in the absence of traditional leader. It is alleged that two of the three administrators left with millions of rand.
The Public Protector has also been asked to investigate allegations of maladministration and corruption relating to budget allocation and tender processes of several community projects, including the construction of a palace and the décor of the facility. The community alleges that the budget of the palace construction suspiciously shot up from R30million to R60million while décor is alleged to have cost R20million. She will also look into alleged failed projects, where costs were allegedly inflated.
In addition, the community requested the Public Protector to establish why the provincial government had been failing to respond to their queries and called for a forensic investigation.
During the meeting held at a packed community hall, it was agreed that MEC Dodovu would provide information relating to the “D account” and all administrative actions taken in the name of the Bapo community, including the names of all those involved, by 05 November. 
A forensic investigation will commence on the same date following the appointment of “a credible and reputable” forensic investigation firm by the Public Protector. Investigators from the firm will work with the community to find answers to the questions raised. 
An administrator and an interim community council will be appointed by the end of next week while a formal council will be appointed between February and March 2013. The chief’s fate will be determined by a court of law. 
The Public Protector said it was right for the provincial government to shoulder the responsibility of sorting out the chieftaincy problems, with MEC Dodovu taking the lead, as her office was not empowered to get involved in succession disputes.
The administrator to be appointed by Premier Thandi Modise, through the facilitation of the MEC Dodovu, to run the affairs of the community, would work with the interim community council so that decisions involving large sums of money were not taken by an individual. 
The Public Protector added that her office’s preliminary investigation into the matters raised would continue, phase two of which would be conducted by way of a public hearing to allow for greater input from the community.
MEC Dodovu, who had been invited by the Public Protector to the meeting, pledged the provincial government’s cooperation, indicating that it was in the government and the community’s interest that the issues raised be resolved. 
“The provincial government will cooperate with the Public Protector processes. If fact, we are obligated to cooperate. Where there are problems, we need to sit around the table and resolve them,” he said.
The community was also allowed an opportunity to raise unrelated service delivery issues with the Public Protector. Complaints, which in the main related to development and economic opportunities, were raised, with the Public Protector undertaking to give them her attention.
The complaints included that royalties, by the nearby Lonmin mine and other mines that operate in the area, diminished without explanation. It was further alleged that Lonmin and other mines were not implementing the social pact made with the community. 
The community alleged that they had been marginalised regarding the decision to hold the Marikana Commission in their area in view of the fact that the mine is in their land and tragedy happened in the area. 
The Public Protector promised to write to the Minister of Mining, Susan Shabangu, by the end of next week over complaints about these and other matters, including the issue of opencast mining activities and related alleged irregularities in the granting of mining licenses. 
Though the meeting was a follow up to an earlier on held with the community, it took place as part of the annual National Good Governance Week, which commenced on Monday. 
The week seeks to foster a collective consciousness and a common understanding of good governance. It also aims to strengthen synergies among oversight bodies and civil society entities that play a central role in promoting and enforcing good governance. 
This year’s campaign focuses on ensuring a responsive service delivery through ethical leadership. Civil society is also being mobilised to play a part in promoting ethical governance, which is at the core of good governance and responsive service delivery

For more info:

Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Communication Public Protector SA
Tel: (012) 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Friday, October 19, 2012