MACUFE Millions: Time for MEC Leeto to account 

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

It is time for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mathabo Leeto, to account for her department’s financial management over the MACUFE 2014 festival. It is alleged that the department failed to draft a budget for this year’s festival.

It is common knowledge that sports, arts and culture have a positive influence on nation-building and reconciliation. This must however never be used as a pretext for ignoring financial requirements. MACUFE has cost the province on average between R30 and R40 million per year since it was launched. While other festivals of a similar nature are able to sustain themselves with little or no assistance from government, MACUFE continues to place financial burdens on our cash strapped province.

I have today submitted a written question to MEC Leeto asking clarity around the financial management of the festival. We would like to know:

  1. Whether the department compiled a budget for the MACUFE 2014 festival before the preparations for the event began; if not, why not; if so, (a) when was the budget compiled and (b) what was the (i) total budget and (ii) the budget subtotal for each line item;
  2. (a) What were the actual direct amounts spent and (b) what was the total direct income generated by the department for the MACUFE 2014 festival?

MEC Leeto has been implicated previously with financial mismanagement and other tender irregularities. Some of these include:

  • A R2 billion multi-tender fraud and racketeering racket, over several years, in Matjhabeng Local Municipality, which effectively crippled the municipality financially;
  • MEC Leeto stands co-accused alongside MEC Malakoane for charges relating to corruption, fraud and money laundering. Incidentally, her then husband, Lehana, allegedly received a R200 000.00 kickback paid directly into his personal account from Gestetner, the company awarded the contract;
  • During MEC Leeto’s tenure as mayor of Matjhabeng in 2009, she oversaw the construction of a R1 million wall and R500 000.00 worth of renovations to her private residence in Odendaalsrus;
  • MEC Leeto hosted a lavish mayoral inauguration party when she was appointed mayor for the Lejweleputswa District Municipality in 2011. When we raised questions she claimed that there is nothing wrong with hosting such parties and that the money was used from “savings”.

Naturally, considering her alleged involvement in these irregular activities and her negative attitude towards financial accountability, we are concerned that she continues to enjoy access to large amounts of taxpayer money.

Delivering the MACUFE 2014 festival without a clearly defined budget, could balloon the department’s expenditure and open its procurement processes up to various irregularities.