Premier must quit, says Limpopo opposition
Polokwane - Opposition parties in Limpopo are planning to use constitutional means to force Premier Cassel Mathale to resign after the auditor general's 2011 report revealed that the province incurred R2.7bn in unauthorised expenditure under his administration.
Provincial Congress of the people (Cope) chairperson Solly Mokhashoa called on Mathale and his MECs to resign and account for the expenditure.
"We know of companies associated with Mathale that have benefited from unauthorised expenditure in the province.
"We call for him to make the honourable decision and submit his resignation as premier of the province, or else we will use available constitutional means to force him to resign," Mokhashoa told African Eye News Service (AENS) on Wednesday.
He said finance MEC Pravin Gordhan must fast-track the forensic auditors' investigation into the province's unauthorised expenditure.
"It has never happened before in the province that five departments are placed under administration by the national government. Why does it happen under Mathale? He should resign," he said.
Last year December Gordhan placed five Limpopo departments under administration, namely education, public works, roads and transport, finance and the sister departments health and social development.
"Three of the five departments are led by the premier’s cronies and members of the top executive of the ANC in the province.
Service delivery is compromised and ordinary citizens are taken for granted, denied their basic rights enshrined in the constitution," Mokhashoa said.
Democratic Alliance provincial leader Desiree van der Walt said: "If the report leaks from senior government officials have any factual basis, then one thing becomes very clear and it is that Mathale must resign as the premier of Limpopo."
Van der Walt said the buck stopped with Mathale as the political leader of the province.
"Therefore, [he must] take political responsibility for the financial chaos in Limpopo and resign.
Abuse of power
Mathale is reported to have abused his position as premier to force his executive to prioritise infrastructure projects that would benefit companies with links to him and his political cohorts at the expense of other government’s service delivery operations.
"In fact, some of these companies are said to have been paid every second day in contravention of the supply management laws which prescribe a 30-day period for payments to service providers," said Van der Walt.
She said the supply management laws were put in place for a reason and one of them was to make sure that government pays for services actually rendered.
"With this revelation it is now evident that our public coffers were reduced to a cookie jar for Mathale and his political associates.
"To make sure that graft went unnoticed, Mathale consistently purged the government of civil servants who spoke out against corruption, reportedly issuing golden handshakes to at least 10 senior officials he perceived as disloyal," added Van der Walt.
She said under Mathale, unauthorised expenditure rose from R1.5bn in 2009 to R2.7bn in 2011.
"If Mathale is unwilling to go, then the ANC as a political party must get rid of him. Failure to do so indicates tacit approval for corruption, or at least a failure to understand its seriousness.
"If Mathale does not resign, the DA will pursue every available constitutional means to make sure that he accounts for this mess," she said.
Provincial ANC spokesperson Makonde Mathivha said the provincial structure of the ANC fully supported Mathale and his administration.
"Sometimes people say things they don't understand. The R2.7bn unauthorised expenditure will be regularised as soon as parliament re-opens because it was used for projects that needed quick intervention.
"For example, people in Vhembe refused to vote until they had electricity and water, so we had to intervene and give them those services which were not budgeted for.
"There is value for money in such projects," said Mathivha.
He added that such projects included addressing natural disasters which were not budgeted for in the province.