R50m in World Cup funds 'gone'

26 March 2013 - 04:13 By SBU MJIKELISO
Buffalo City Stadium. File photo
Buffalo City Stadium. File photo
Image: Gallo Images

Parliament's sport portfolio committee is investigating R50-million in World Cup 2010 Legacy Projects money that is said to have "disappeared" at the Buffalo City Municipality, in the Eastern Cape.

Committee chairman Richard Mdakane said they made the discovery of the missing funds during an oversight visit in June last year. At a meeting last week, it was suggested that the committee seek advice from the portfolio committee on safety and security about the matter.

"There was a problem about the legacy project when we visited Buffalo City and an allegation was made that there is R50-million that is unaccounted for," Mdakane said.

"We requested the department of sport in the Eastern Cape to deal with the matter, [but] they have not really come back to us." The Fifa-backed legacy projects funds are meant to be used for building and improving sport infrastructure in the country's provinces.

The government poured almost R30-billion into the 2010 Legacy Projects from the time South Africa was awarded the rights to host the soccer tournament in 2004. Most of the money went towards hosting the global showpiece and some went towards building sport infrastructure in poor areas, which would last well beyond 2010.

"The view was that, in the next meeting, we should consider inviting Buffalo City and the [Eastern Cape] sport department to come and have a discussion to address that matter. It was raised as a follow-up issue [on March 19] by the portfolio committee on sport and recreation. We will take an appropriate decision when we meet on the matter," Mdakane said.

The Buffalo City Municipality, however, has denied allegations that the funds have gone missing.

Spokesman Keith Ngesi said the funds have not been embezzled, but admitted that projects have stalled.

"We haven't heard anything suggesting that the R50-million has disappeared without doing the work," Ngesi said.

"A greater portion of that money - about R21-million - has been used to upgrade Buffalo City Stadium and work has started in some fields that were identified as 2010 legacy projects. The metro is aware of the work that has not been done and responsible units are putting together a report, including paid invoices, with [a] portfolio of evidence for work done."

A decision on what further steps will be taken will be made at a meeting with sport director-general Alec Moemi, who is aware of the allegations, Mdakane said.

"We were not happy with the legacy project. The Eastern Cape department of sport should have dealt with this long ago."

The Eastern Cape sport department had not responded to inquiries at the time of going to print, and attempts to contact Moemi for comment failed.

South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani, a Fifa Legacy Board member, said 2010 Legacy Projects had "nothing to do" with the Fifa Legacy Trust, which was set up by the world soccer governing body to oversee South Africa's share of the tournament profits. He added that the two entities "had no relationship in any form or shape".