‘Rich’ community marches for answers

2014-04-27 06:01

A battle that has lasted over a decade will land up at the stairs of the Union Buildings on Tuesday.

The Bakwena Ba Mogopa community will be marching to Pretoria to hand over a memorandum begging President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the community’s affairs.

The community, on whose ancestral land mining companies are operating, has been embroiled in a battle between their chief and the North West provincial government over the millions in royalties from mining companies in their trust accounts.

The Bakwena are situated on the platinum belt near Brits, where Xstrata and Implats mine platinum.

The battle was taken to the Public Protector’s office in 2012 when the chairperson of Parliament’s public accounts committee, Themba Godi, lodged a complaint on behalf of the Bakwena Ba Mogopa Tribal Authority.

The community claims government officials have looted and mismanaged their trust ­accounts.

“The Bakwena community has the same problem as many other communities that are on mineral-rich land. There’s always a problem of transparency and accountability with their funds. The community is tired of the norm in the North West where the people’s complaints are never taken seriously. That’s why they are going outside of this province to seek help,” said Godi, who will also be attending the march.

Madonsela has been asked to investigate allegations of fraud, mismanagement and corruption.

But as the community awaits the completion of the investigation, they have been disheartened by allegations that North West Premier Thandi Modise’s office refuses to cooperate with the investigation.

Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesperson of the Public Protector, said: “The Public Protector has had difficulties in obtaining information from the North West government. The Public Protector has received cooperation from the premier as a person, but her office has failed to deliver on the promises. That is why the Public Protector then approached National Treasury for help. The Public Protector has also received cooperation and support from North West Scopa [Standing Committee on Public Accounts].”

But some community members aren’t convinced. Peter Motau, march organiser, said: “We have done everything that was expected of us to get this issue resolved, but we still are nowhere. We are sitting on very rich land, but we have nothing. There has been no developments in our area. We are marching because we want the president to know that we are still fighting this battle.”

Another community member, who did not want to be named, said the community had not even been told how much is in their trust accounts.

“We have no say in how the money is spent. There are no documents saying how much money there is. There have been no audits in years. This is madness. We are just told that we are getting 26% from the mining companies. But what is that when we don’t know where that money is going. We want answers,” said the community member.

Motau said Tuesday’s march would be peaceful and all they want to do is hand over their memorandum.

“This is a peaceful march for answers,” said Motau.

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