Public Protector investigating Magashule’s project

2011-11-05 19:32

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is investigating Free State Premier Ace Magashule and a controversial multimillion-rand project run from his office.

Madonsela’s office confirmed this week they had received fresh information from opposition parties in the province and would consolidate it, with information from other tip-offs received in April, into one probe.

At the centre of the complaints is Operation Hlasela, a project being run from Magashule’s office that is used as a service delivery vehicle and has a voluntary fund into which donors can donate money.

The investigation will look into:
» What really is the nature of Operation Hlasela;
» Whether it is using public funds;
» Who it accounts to for those funds, if at all; and
» What the tender procedures were and whether they complied with the law.

Opposition parties Cope, the DA and the FF+ cooperated in a request for Madonsela to investigate the premier. They specifically want the probe to focus on abuse of power.

Mwandile Hleko, Cope’s chief whip in the provincial legislature, said this was the second time the party had complained to the Public Protector about Magashule.

Hleko said there was no transparency in the administration of Operation Hlasela’s finances and no-one knew where money for the project came from.

“Magashule is the custodian of the fund – not in his personal capacity, but as the premier of the Free State, which makes it the business of the provincial government,” he said.

Provincial DA leader Roy Jankielsohn said the legislature was the platform where Magashule should answer questions, but this was not happening.“The problem is that the legislature has become dysfunctional.

“So after receiving no joy from the legislature I asked the Public Protector, earlier this year, to investigate Operation Hlasela and the possible misuse of government funds for political party business”, he said.

“There are Hlasela houses and roads and during the local elections the ANC called its campaign Operation Hlasela.”

Recent reports suggested the premier was also in the process of awarding a multimillion-rand tender for a Hlasela television show.

Wisani Ngobeni, spokesperson for Magashule, said the premier welcomed the investigation and supports it. He said the premier’s department received a clean audit for the 2010/2011 financial year.

“The Auditor-General does a comprehensive audit and a clean audit shows that the department is doing everything by the book and that its finances are in order”, added Ngobeni.

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