ONE of the province’s most financially unstable municipalities spent almost R3-million on hiring more than 250 different caterers on the day of Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu last year.
A copy of King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality’s quarterly report, seen by the Daily Dispatch, also shows the cash-strapped local authority spent in excess of R31million from its own coffers on hiring toilets, buying cleaning materials and protective clothing, and the “urgent” fixing of two streets in the CBD. This was despite a circular from national Treasury prohibiting municipalities from offering catering during the funeral.
More than R2.8-million went to hiring 267 catering companies to provide food for people watching the funeral in public viewing areas (PVAs) in and around Mthatha.
Several caterers approached by the Daily Dispatch this week said they had either been contacted through text messages or had received telephone calls. They were paid R10 500 each. Many told the Daily Dispatch they had been given a flat rate by KSD officials and told they would each feed 100 people breakfast and lunch. “We were given specifications as to what to serve,” said JY Methemerols owner Siyabonga Mtongana.
But Nomalungelo Bonga, who owns Siyuyile Nonzame Traditional Dancing, said her company, which also offers catering services, had been asked to feed around 200 people for the same amount.
Last year, KSD had to ask for a R200-million loan from the provincial local government department to replenish its coffers.
The quarterly report shows millions were spent on buying goods and services without following proper supply chain processes.
UDM caucus leader at KSD Wandile Tsipa has called for an urgent and thorough investigation.
He said they were told in a council meeting after Mandela’s death that funeral preparations would be handled at national level.
COPE’s Zanele PantshwaMaqabuka called for KSD to be placed under administration.
“What is happening at this municipality is a disgrace,” she said.
KSD spokesman Sonwabo Mampoza had not responded to questions e-mailed to him by the time of going to print yesterday.
Mthatha Ratepayers’ Association chairman Graeme Alexander said it was unacceptable that so much money could be spent without any proper explanation.
“The big question is was there any connection between the companies that benefited without proper supply chain processes being followed and the councillors in the municipality?”
He also called for a proper investigation into the spending, saying it was possible that some people had “taken advantage of the time [Mandela’s funeral]” and had exploited the opportunity for personal gain. “Why are some companies paid more than others for offering the same service?
“When you spend money you need to be able to explain what you have used it for. But this one is just full of discrepancies.”
The report shows that one company was paid R50 000 for hiring toilets to KSD for 15 days while another received R740 000 for the same service. A supplier was paid around R22 000 for a gas heater although the funeral was in midsummer. One company scored more than R866 000 for providing refuse bags. Another was paid R858 000 for providing transport to all municipal wards.
The latest KSD scandal comes after Buffalo City Metro was revealed to have used around R6million for transporting people to memorial services for Madiba.
The National Federated Chamber of Commerce’s regional chairperson in O R Tambo, Vuyisile Ntlabati was shocked.
He said the municipality needed to account for the expenditure.
“An investigation is needed to answer a lot of questions. Tata Mandela deserved a dignified send-off but we can’t condone what we see as fruitless expenditure.
“Why are there so many discrepancies in terms of companies paid? Why pay different rates for the same services?”