Chief plunders tribe’s mining millions – Madonsela
THE tribe of Bapo Ba Mogale in the North West is rich on paper, but poor in reality.
And their resources – more than R600 million in mining rights royalties – have been pillaged without them being able to exact accountability.
That was the damning preliminary finding of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into allegations of maladministration of the tribe’s mining royalties since 1994.
Madonsela delivered the preliminary findings at a packed community hall in Bapong outside Brits yesterday, where the divided community gasped as she mentioned the money spent.
The tribe lives in the wealthy platinum belt. But the only thing they have to show for it is a complete loss of hope.
Madonsela found the account where royalties worth more than R600m were held, known as D account and one of 96 such accounts in the province, had been ransacked and left empty.
“What it means is that all the money you earned has been spent,” she said. “The paymaster who was controlling the account was the North West government. We established there was no trust or trust account, nor oversight over this money.”
Madonsela found the largest amount was spent on building tribal chief Emius Mogale, a palace locals now liken to Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma’s homestead.
Madonsela said when her investigation began, the cost of the chief ’s palace stood at R50m. This rose to R80m, despite her officer ordering the tribal authority to stop its spending spree.
Chief Mogale said those who misused the community’s money must be made to pay it back.
Madonsela is now taking aim at mining companies involved in the Bapo land to see if the cash they have been paying to the community as royalties since 1994 was in line with what should have been earned.
She will also probe how money funnelled by mining companies to the 95 other such accounts in the province was used and to whose benefit.
Madonsela is also looking at what role the provincial political leaders played, and who should have done what to stop the rot.
Some in the tribe recently vowed to boycott next week’s elections over a fresh fight with their tribal council on the latest allegations of money being misappropriated.
Two weeks ago the community’s frustrations at the lack of development spilled into the streets, when they took to a local radio station to air allegations of mining funds meant to benefit them being misused.
Madonsela said she did not want her report to fuel further tensions.
“There is no point in being rich on paper but poor in real life. One of the pillars that will help this community to prosper is the whole question of unity,” she said.
“Our (final) report will include advice and an ideal governance model. We have to look at the model they have now with the new investment structure and advise them whether that is best way forward in managing the community affairs.”
Madonsela has committed to completing the report by the time her term ends in October.