By David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The legal costs incurred by Health MEC, Benny Malakoane, and Sports, Arts and Culture MEC, Mathabo Leeto, are being paid for by the bankrupt and dysfunctional Matjhabeng Local Municipality.
Both MEC Malakoane, who served as the municipality’s then Municipal Manager, and MEC Leeto, who served as mayor, are on trial for their alleged involvement in a multi-million rand fraud and racketeering ring, irregular tender processes, and abuse of public funds.
This was revealed in reply to a written question submitted by the DA to COGTA MEC, Olly Mlamleli. MEC Mlamleli claims that the municipality is unable to disclose the amounts incurred since this matter is still currently before the court.
The DA also submitted written questions to both MEC Malakoane and Leeto asking them whether their respective departments are paying their legal costs.
MEC Malakoane replied that since these legal matters are considered private and he is footing his own legal bill. It appears that MEC Malakoane is intentionally misleading the Free State Provincial Legislature by claiming in a legally binding reply that he is paying his own legal costs while it now appears that the Matjhabeng Local Municipality has been footing the bill all this time.
MEC Leeto replied that her department is not responsible for the payment of any legal fees in this particular matter.
Matjhabeng Local Municipality is technically bankrupt for reasons MEC Mathabo Leeto contributed to during her time as mayor. The municipality has never received a clean audit since its inception and have received disclaimer of opinion and adverse findings consecutively for at least the last five financial years.
In addition, the municipality owes ESKOM almost R600 million and Sedibeng Water almost R1,1 billion in debt.
Considering the extent of the rot of poor financial management and collapsed governance in Matjhabeng, it is completely unacceptable for the municipality to cover the legal costs of MEC Malakoane and MEC Leeto.
The DA considers this entire affair grossly irregular and we will be writing to the Auditor-General to investigate. We will also bring charges against MEC Benny Malakoane for censure in the Legislature for appearing to intentionally mislead the public in a bid to avoid accountability.
The DA has long maintained that MEC Malakoane and MEC Leeto have no place in government. Looking at their respective recent histories, their actions seem to have had a disastrous impact on the proper functioning of government at local and provincial level.
Premier Ace Magashule and the ANC continues to protect questionable characters that are systematically eroding our constitutional order and the Rule of Law.
The DA will always be there to take the appropriate action to protect our constitutional order and to ensure that justice is done.