Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has ruled that “the process of the procurement in the construction of the palace was done without going out to tender or calling for quotations” as processed by the North West department of local government.
“Accordingly, it was irregular to have proceeded with the construction without going to tender because the Bapo administration would have received and considered other competitive bidders who would have provided value for money,” she said.
This contravention of Section 38 of the PFMA resulted in the total construction work of the palace complex climbing up to R115 million, “well above the budgeted amount of R29.8 million”.
Mkhwebane found out there was a “gross misuse of funds” by the department, thereby exceeding the budget by about R85 million, and “no reasons were advanced for such huge increases”.
Even particularly baffling is that the “department failed to submit the Bapo administration books and accounts for auditing by the auditor-general [AG]”.
This inaction meant that the AG could not provide opinions and guidelines on how the funds were managed on behalf of the community.
The main source of revenue for the community since 1991, as the public protector reiterated, “has been royalties from mining companies doing business in Bapo lands”.
“These royalties are deposited directly to the D account held at the North West provincial department of finance. At the beginning of 1 April 1991, the balance was R693 773.63.”
The D account was formed by the former Bophutatswana bantustan government to manage funds of all communities for developmental purposes. It was taken over by North West provincial government in 1994.
In June 2016, only R495 655.91 was accounted in the D account.
Brian Setswambung, North West government provincial spokesperson, told The Citizen the premier had on several occasions said the province would abide by the public protector’s remedial actions.
“The premier has further stated that the province will collaborate will law-enforcement agencies, including the SIU in combating crime, greed and corruption,” said Setswambung.