EXCLUSIVE: This is where the money for the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort museum went

2018-04-13 15:21
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's former house in Brandfort will be restored, says the Department of Arts and Culture. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's former house in Brandfort will be restored, says the Department of Arts and Culture. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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An audit report commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) found that nearly R600 000 paid to two contractors for the beleaguered Winnie Madikizela-Mandela museum project in the Free State amounted to "fruitless expenditure".

One of the contractors subsequently told News24 that fruitless expenditure is a "political" term.

According to the DAC's latest annual report, the department commissioned a quantity surveying company to evaluate all infrastructure projects that had been handled by the Independent Development Trust (IDT), the implementing agent appointed by the DAC for the Winnie Mandela museum in Brandfort in the Free State. The IDT also handled other legacy and heritage projects on behalf of the DAC.

ALSO READ: Arts and Culture dept appoints new contractor to complete restoration of Mama Winnie's Brandfort house

The quantity surveyor's report found fruitless expenditure of R593 622 "with regard to the Winnie Mandela House Project", according to the DAC's 2016-17 annual report.

Seeing as the IDT had earlier stated that its total expenditure on the project amounted to R593 622, the implication of the audit commissioned by the DAC is that every single cent spent on the project so far has been fruitless.

The money was paid to DM-DMZ Construction and Property Development, the main building contractor, and to Arch-Live Architects, a Gauteng-based firm whose sole director told News24 that fruitless expenditure is "a political word used in government and in boardrooms".

DM-DMZ was placed in business rescue only three months after it started working on the project.



A page from a Department of Arts and Culture presentation on the Winnie Mandela museum project. 


The IDT challenged the audit report's findings.

"However the implementing agent is disputing the findings, and the matter is currently subject to dispute resolution. Upon finalisation of the dispute resolution process, the fruitless expenditure register will be updated accordingly," reads the DAC's annual report.

Where the money went

Despite the IDT's protestations, the DAC nevertheless chose to terminate the IDT's services as the implementing agent for the project.

According to a PowerPoint summary of a DAC briefing to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture made in February this year, "the DAC confirmed the termination of the Memorandum of Agreement between DAC and IDT in respect of all projects managed by IDT based on time lapse, as well as the report findings of both a prior forensic investigation, as well as the findings of the quantity surveyor that, among others, indicated that the DAC did not receive value for money and was overcharged on professional fees".

PICS: Condition of Winnie Madikizela Mandela's house in Brandfort

The IDT says it cannot comment on the audit findings regarding the fruitless expenditure, seeing as the report wasn't made public.

The IDT says it spent the R593 622 as follows: "An amount of R117 543 was paid to the contractor [DM-DMZ Construction] of the project, for preliminaries and general, site establishment and earthworks. The rest of the money was utilised for consultant fees. It was paid to the various consultants via the architect and principal agent (Arch-Live Architects) – perhaps they’ll be able to break it down for you. By consultants, we mean functions such as the quantity surveyor, land surveyor, OHS consultant, heritage consultants, electrical engineer, civil engineer, etc."

DM-DMZ Construction's sole director, Danjana Mkwane, asked to be called back to discuss the matter at a later stage, but he did not answer subsequent phone calls. According to company records, DM-DMZ applied to be placed in business rescue in February 2014, only three months after it started working on the museum project in November 2013.

ALSO READ: Zindzi Mandela's childhood friend in Brandfort saddened by dilapidated state of the house they grew up in

Letsabisa Lerotholi, Arch-Live Architects' only director, says she was paid as a consultant, and that her fees were in line with prescripts from industry bodies such as the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).

She said she had not been informed of an audit report in which the fees paid to her were found to have been fruitless.

"Fruitless expenditure is a political word they use in government and in boardrooms," Lerotholi, who now goes by the surname Shongwe, told News24.

She told News24 to rather direct queries at her former client, the IDT.

According to the DAC briefing in Parliament, the IDT furnished the department with "conflicting versions as to the cause of the dissolution of the relationship between IDT and DM-DMZ [the main contractor]".

According to the one account, DM-DMZ left the site after only two months, due to non-payment from the IDT. The IDT told the DAC that this was a result of "issues that [the] IDT experienced in the changeover of the IDT's financial system", according to the briefing in Parliament.

But the IDT apparently also claimed that the principal agent [Arch-Live Architects] "was not strong on contract management", according to the PowerPoint summary.



Arch-Live Architects director Letsabisa Shongwe (née Lerotholi). She says fruitless expenditure is a "political word".  

Cleaning up the mess

The DAC's briefing to the parliamentary committee includes plans for the way forward with the problem-ridden project.

"On 21 November 2017, DAC appointed the Bid Adjudication Committee-recommended service provider, Risimati Consulting Engineers, as an implementing agent (IA) for a total amount of R1.9m," the DAC told the committee members.

According to the DAC presentation, the "Winnie Mandela House project revised scope of work focuses on the restoration of the dwelling house and bombed clinic; and converting them to interpretative spaces".

"The appointed contractor should establish on site from 1 April 2018 and complete the construction by 31 October 2019, as per [the] IA's provisional milestones," the DAC told the committee.

Do you have information for our investigative journalists? Send an email to tips@24.com

WATCH: Inside Winnie's dilapidated Brandfort home

Read more on:    winnie madikizela-mandela  |  bloemfontein  |  service delivery  |  corruption

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