Chief plun­ders tribe’s min­ing mil­lions – Madon­sela

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - THABISO THAKALI

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.

thabiso.thakali@inl.co.za

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