R48 mln Manyane Game Lodge refurbishment under investigation

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The National Tourism Department has launched an investigation into the spending of R48 million on the refurbishment of Manyane Game Lodge in Mahikeng, North West.

The project has been delayed for almost seven years. Several contractors were appointed since to complete the project but nothing has been done.

Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille visited the game reserve on Monday and undertook that the matter will be investigated.

Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in the province, and Manyane Game Lodge was once an impressive tourist attraction in the capital, Mahikeng. Now it has been left in a dire state.

The National Department of Tourism appointed numerous contractors to refurbish the facility after the North West Parks and Tourism Agency approached the department with a request to upgrade the lodge’s facilities. This included refurbishing and constructing new chalets, building a restaurant and parking, and upgrading the main water, sewerage and electricity systems.

The contractors all left the site without any apparent reason.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in the provincial legislature also visited the site and they were left in shock when they saw the state of the facility.

“There is nothing, it is worse than before, you can see yourself from the gate there is nothing, electricity, they have taken everything and what worries is that the department has employed security. We have just spoken to the guy here. He does not even know his boss, he does not get paid, and he only knows he is a security officer. Things were stolen here, people were given money, they did not do anything,” SCOPA Chairperson Job Dliso.

Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille says urgent accountability is needed.

“I need answers because the money is from the budget of the Department of Tourism. The first R48 million came from there and that money must be accounted for. Then the Department of Tourism decided to put another R27 million and that money must be accounted for.”

De Lille added that criminal cases have been opened regarding vandalism that has taken place in the facility but no one has been arrested.

“Well, I have seen on the report case numbers, six cases that were reported to the police, the police closed the cases on the basis that there is no evidence, you know the normal story, and should more evidence become available they will open the cases but there has been no arrest, no prosecution, noting on the sic cases about the vandalism that we have seen here today.”

Another contractor has been appointed to do additional work worth R27.9  million last week and the project will be completed in October next year.