ONE of the province’s most financially unstable municipalities spent almost R3-million hiring more than 200 different caterers on the day of former president Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu last year.
A copy of King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) Municipality’s quarterly report also shows the cash-strapped local authority spent more than R31-million hiring toilets, buying cleaning materials and protective clothing, and on the “urgent” fixing of two streets in the city centre.
This was despite a circular from the National Treasury prohibiting all municipalities from offering catering during the funeral.
More than R2.8-million went on hiring 267 catering companies to provide food for people watching the funeral in public viewing areas in and around Mthatha. The caterers were paid R10500 each.
Many said 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 Trading owner Siyabonga Mtongana.
Another caterer, Nomalungelo Bonga of Siyuyile Nonzame Traditional Dancing, said her company, which also offers catering services, had been asked to feed around 200 people and was paid R10500.
But one caterer, who asked not to be named as she did not want to lose out on future catering jobs at KSD, said she had a great deal of lunch left over which she gave to street children as many people had left the public viewing area at the Mthatha Stadium. “Many people decided to watch the funeral from home.”
Last year the KSD municipality was forced to ask for a R200-million loan to replenish its dwindling coffers from the provincial Local Government Department. It had been ordered to pay R100-million to a disgruntled land developer.
The quarterly report also shows millions were spent on procuring goods and services without following proper supply chain processes.
A KSD councillor, who did not want to be named, said the council was in the dark about the expenditure. “We don’t know how it came about and what the money was really used for as nothing has been explained to us.”
Council policy dictated that projects worth more than R250000 be put out to tender.
UDM provincial secretary and party caucus leader at KSD, Wandile Tsipa, called for an urgent investigation, saying they had been told in a special council meeting shortly after the news of Mandela’s death that the preparations for the funeral would be handled at national level.
COPE’s Zanele Pantshwa-Maqabuka called for the municipality 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 at 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 a 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 matter. “This is ridiculous. Why are some companies paid more than others for offering the same service?”
The quarterly report shows one company was paid R50000 for the hiring of toilets for 15 days while another received R740000 for the same service. Another company was paid about R22000 for supplying a gas heater although the funeral was in December, in summer. Another scored more than R866000 for providing refuse bags.
National Federated Chamber of Commerce OR Tambo regional chairman Vuyisile Ntlabati said the municipality needed to account for the expenditure. “We all know this municipality does not have money.
“They must tell us how they used the money in detail,” he said. – Sikho Ntshobane