Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle says the money deposited in his personal bank account during the preparations of late former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral has all been accounted for.
Speaking to City Press on the sidelines of the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Madiba’s passing at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha on Tuesday, Masualle said his conscience was clean.
This was in response to questions around the report that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released on Monday, in which she found widespread maladministration and misappropriation of funds amounting to R300 million by the Eastern Cape provincial government in funding Madiba’s 2013 funeral.
Masualle was the MEC for finance and economic development at the time of Madiba’s death in 2013.
R250 000 had been transferred to his personal bank account.
An irate Masualle told City Press he had done nothing wrong.
Asked how the R250 000 found its way into his bank account, Masualle said: “I think the department ... in the absence of a departmental credit card, because usually these are things you would do with a credit card basically ... But in the absence of that they thought of making an arrangement. An arrangement unfortunately that went wrong, in that, firstly it went into my bank account which I immediately said, no, no. It does not look good this way because certainly it tends to have other connotations,” said Masualle.
He said after this had happened he pleaded with the department to “please correct this [the transaction]”.
“I had from that time made sure that every amount, every cent that was spent of that money was to be accounted for fully and a full report given back to the department. Indeed that was done. Of that R250 000 only an amount of R5000 was spent and that R5 000 was accounted for in full and the rest of the money was returned back to the department,” he said.
He said because of other political matters people picked up the blunder and tried to suggest impropriety on his part.
“The truth is out there. I [told] the Public Protector what happened. Of course they are taking issue now with the correctness of the instrument used to enable that the money was not chewed or the money was never accounted for. That’s really what happened,” he said.
When asked who had spent the R5000 from the R250 000 deposited to his account, Masualle said: “It was spent by myself. It was reimbursed. It was accounted for because, you see it was on items that had to do with the hosting of the event.
“I am happy to clarify the matter. Of course people can say whatever they want to say. My conscience is very much at ease because I know what happened,” said Masualle.
He said in the context of what took place, there were to be teams of MECs, and that as MEC at the time he was assigned to be the lead MEC to receive all the guests who would be descending on Mthatha.
“The anticipation was that there would be international guests and all manner of VIPs who would be coming here for which we needed to be ready to receive them and host them in whatever way we could,” said Masualle.
He said that reports that R300 million had been misappropriated were wrong because only R22 million was spent.
“It is factually not so that R300 million was spent. It was a portion of that, because that amount of money was an amount dedicated for a specific purpose. It’s the figure of R22 million that the [Eastern Cape Development Corporation] spent in that regard.
“We welcome the report as government and we will apply our minds to the report and in a short space of time offer to the public what measures we are going to take in respect of the report. When needed, we will revert back to the Public Protector in areas where we need clarification,” he said.