Opposition parties in the Free State have accused the African National Congress (ANC) of frustrating efforts to investigate alleged multimillion-rand corruption related to the new legislature premises in Bloemfontein.
The Ramkraal Prison site was meant to be converted into a new Free State Legislature complex, but the national heritage site remains a derelict shell of its former self. To add insult to injury, more than R120 million budgeted for the project 10 years ago, is unaccounted for.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Free State Member of the Provincial Legislature, David Janse Van Vuuren says the people of the Free State need answers as to what happened to the project.
“The problem there is that there is R120 million spent on this project. They demolished one of the buildings, it is a heritage site. They didn’t go through all the processes to demolish or build this new complex and it’s a long process to go through. They paid for things, we have been there with media houses and there is nothing. There is no fence. If we talk about value for money, what happened to the money? Where was it spent?”
Freedom Front Plus Member of the Provincial Legislature Devar Smit says those responsible need to account.
“We have to regain the taxpayers’ money and guilty parties have to be prosecuted. The law has to take place.”
Two legislature committees have been established to investigate the matter.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Free State Chairperson, Mandisa Makesini says the outcome of the report in the collapsed project will give the Public Protector an opportunity to investigate.
“We hope the report will be more detailed to assist the Public Protector and the committee. The people responsible for oversight from the party are trying to block everything to make it difficult for us to do oversight. So, let’s hope the report will come and they will allow the Public Protector to do her work.”
At least 17 service providers were involved in the project, including government departments. But, African National Congress Chief Whip, Vusi Tshabalala has refuted claims that his party prevented the opposition from doing oversight.
“Whether the money is missing or not we must make sure we get reports from relevant appointed people. Remember in terms of the constitution we have powers to request any report from anybody, any payments that were made. It is the power enshrined in the constitution that we must get that information. So, as we speak, there is that information in our disposal. We need to take that information to the committee.”
The Free State Legislature has denied that efforts to investigate the alleged multimillion-rand corruption have been frustrated. It says all the parties have been given an equal opportunity to interrogate the reports.