UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has urged South Africans not to buy into the president’s claim that a province built 500 social houses spending R600m as it is diverting attention away from his Phala Phala scandal.
Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane
UDM LEADER Bantu Holomisa has urged South Africans not to buy into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claim that he knows of a province that spent R600 million on 500 RDP housing units, costing the government R1.2m per RDP house.
When closing the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane, Limpopo, on Sunday, Ramaphosa told delegates that the ANC-led government suffered from a culture of overpricing products and services related to tenders.
“Corruption has been changing its face and its form, and we must be on the lookout for how people change ways of becoming corrupt. One of the ways that I have now noticed, and we must talk about some of these things, is that there is a lot of overpricing for government projects or tenders. We overpay for everything.
“The other day I heard of one story, in a province, where we built 500 social houses, and we spent R600m. These are social houses, RDP-type, high-rise. When I did the calculation I found that we have actually paid R1.2m for an RDP house,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa called for overpricing to come to an end as it was a form of corruption.
However, Holomisa was not convinced that the story was true.
“He seems to be the only one who knows such a story. Even the auditor-general has not reported on this. The president should be able to name the companies that have carried out such an elaborate scheme. He cannot do so because he was simply diverting attention away from his Phala Phala scandal,” Holomisa told Pretoria News on Monday.
The Ramaphosa Phala Phala scandal has ruffled feathers within the ranks of the ANC ahead of the governing party’s elective conference in December.
The National Prosecuting Authority is yet to pronounce whether it will or won’t prosecute Ramaphosa as more revelations are made regarding the concealed theft at his farm, where a disputed amount of US dollars was stolen.
During the Polokwane festivities, Ramaphosa publicly admitted that he was a farmer who sold animals and hunting services at Phala Phala.
While denying that the amount was $4 million (about R62m), he did not provide a figure or produce a register of the proceeds he claims to have made before the incident in February 2020.
The president has also not clarified how he kept running a business while he previously told the nation that he would stop doing so to avoid conflict of interest.
In May 2014, Ramaphosa told South Africans that due to his position as South Africa’s deputy president at the time, his business interests would be held in a blind trust.
“Keeping so much money is also criminal or suspect in terms of our law. It creates suspicion of money laundering, worse so when that cash is in foreign currency,” commented Professor Sipho Seepe.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo told Pretoria News that law enforcement would have acted differently had the theft occurred at a farm belonging to him.
“You would have seen the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Sars and the Hawks on my case: period. We do not have the same laws for everyone,” said Mahumapelo.
Political analyst Goodenough Mashego warned that the recent scandal was not a “mene mene tekel upharsin” moment for Ramaphosa due to the protection he received from the ANC.
“December is already in the bag for Ramaphosa. He has a large number of provinces endorsing him, even though it is endorsements from provincial executive committees and not branches.
“But once PECs endorse, the branches tend to follow because the PECs will do everything in their power to make sure that the branches are going to vote according to what they have promised the president of the ANC.
“The issues of Glencore and the millions of dollars stolen from his home are a snag but not a serious obstacle to his progression further in the ANC. No one can see any contender emerging now, five months before the conference, to contest Ramaphosa and convince branches to support them,” said Mashego.
Mashego added that Glencore was a time bomb that Ramaphosa would defuse through getting a second term.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya refused to answer questions about the president’s knowledge of RDP price inflations.
He refused to say whether inflating an RDP house to R1.2m did not amount to fraud and whether the president had reported the fraud to the police.
“Since what you heard was said at an ANC event, please refer your query to Mr Pule Mabe at the ANC,” said Magwenya.
Mabe did not respond to the inquiry referred to him.