Thu Dec 08 16:23:05 SAST 2016

Good intentions not enough - vigilance is also necessary

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-20 00:38:06.0

The Times Editorial: A rural development project initiated by President Jacob Zuma back in 2009 has been hit hard - villagers allege that a conman has fleeced them of hundreds of thousands of rands.

In our front page story today we report on how a consultant, Raphael Manhire, allegedly conned a women's project in Limpopo after he took out a loan of R1.39-million on its behalf.

His intentions, it seems, were not to help the community but to make a quick buck. That he managed to pay himself about R95 000 a month for six months, without anyone asking questions, is shocking.

When Zuma announced the rural project he said it would offer "lessons for the whole country".

Now the project is in dire straits and the government departments contacted for comment are all pointing their fingers in different directions.

Limpopo department of agriculture spokesman Kenny Mathivha said "preliminary findings are that he [Manhire] was contracted by the Department of Rural Development and Land [Reform] to work on the project".

Tough questions should be asked of the government and its officials.

How can a community project aimed at empowering the impoverished be fleeced under their noses?

This incident raises questions about the government's monitoring and evaluation systems, both at the local and provincial level.

The business community, which is always willing to fund projects, should also begin to ask questions, especially when an individual asks for a loan on behalf of a community.

Those involved in such community projects should also be vigilant.

The monitoring and evaluation would be best done by the communities themselves, with the assistance of active government officials who know what is happening in their own back-yard.

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