Matjhabeng foots bill of two MECs

2015-05-13 06:00
THE MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mathabo Leeto, during the swearing-in ceremony as member of the executive council of the Free State cabinet by Judge Mojalefa Rampai last year during the month of May. 
 Photos: Teboho Setena

THE MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mathabo Leeto, during the swearing-in ceremony as member of the executive council of the Free State cabinet by Judge Mojalefa Rampai last year during the month of May. Photos: Teboho Setena

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THE cash-strapped Matjhabeng Local Municipality is paying the legal costs of two Free State MECs who are on trial for alleged abuse of public funds.

This was revealed in a response to a written answer to a question by the DA to Olly Mlamleli, the Free State MEC of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The MECs in question are Dr Benny Malakoane (MEC for Health) and Mathabo Leeto (MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation) who are on trial for their alleged involvement in a multi-million rand fraud and racketeering ring, irregular tender processes and abuse of public funds.

Malakoane served as Matjhabeng’s municipal manager and Leeto was the mayor at the time of the alleged infringements.

Mlamleli could not disclose the amounts involved in the legal assistance since this matter is still before the court.

Malakoane claimed in a written reply that his legal matters were private and therefore he was footing his own bills.

According to Leeto, her department was not responsible for the payment of any legal fees in this matter.

According to David van Vuuren, DA chief whip in the Free State legislature, Matjhabeng is technically bankrupt. The municipality has never received a clean audit since its inception and has received a disclaimer of opinion and adverse findings consecutively for at least the last five financial years.

In addition, the municipality owes Eskom almost R600 million and Sedibeng Water almost R1,1 billion in debt.

“Considering the extent of the rot of poor financial management and collapsed governance in Matjhabeng, it is completely unacceptable for the municipality to cover the legal costs of the MECs Malakoane and Leeto. The DA considers this entire affair grossly irregular and we will be writing to the Auditor General (AG) to investigate.

“We will also bring charges against MEC Benny Malakoane for censure in the legislature for appearing to intentionally mislead the public in a bid to avoid accountability,” Van Vuuren said.

“The DA has long maintained that MEC Malakoane and MEC Leeto have no place in government. Looking at their respective recent histories, their actions seem to have had a disastrous impact on the proper functioning of government at local and provincial level,” he said.

Leeto was appointed as MEC last year replacing Dan Khothule while Malakoane was retained as MEC for Health since taking over from Fezi Ngubentombi, who died in a car accident in 2012.

“Premier Ace Magashule and the ANC continue to protect questionable characters that are systematically eroding our constitutional order and the Rule of Law.”

In 2013 Vista (sister newspaper to Express Goldfields andamp; NFS) reported that Leeto and Malakoane had been arrested on fraud charges relating to the R13 million tender awarded to Gestetner, a telecommunications company. Leeto appeared in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court and was released on R10 000 bail. At the time two municipal officers, LB de Bruyn (then acting financial officer) and his personal assistant, Leon Nel, were each released on R20 000 bail. Also arrested at the time were three company directors – Hendrik Burger (CEO of Gestetner Maluti), Rudolf Coetzee (assistant director of Gestetner Maluti) and Oupa Molete of Pole Ads.

Leeto’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in the Free State is behind the street-naming debacle in Matjhabeng. Malakoane is prominently in the news because of the major and ongoing problems in Free State Health, and specifically in Matjhabeng

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