Money for Winnie museum is 'not missing': Magashule

04 April 2018 - 14:07 By Naledi Shange
Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule. File photo.
Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule. File photo.
Image: Masi Losi

As it stands‚ house number 802 with its dilapidated walls‚ peeling paint and broken windows reflects the horrible times experienced by struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Brandfort in the Free State.

In an interview with television host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle several years ago‚ Madikizela-Mandela said her years of banishment at Brandfort were among the worst she endured during the struggle.

"There were so many [bad moments]. Those were very difficult times. Perhaps a person like myself would single out the banishment to Brandfort. The seperation from my children and what the security branch did almost every time my children were coming back from boarding school‚" Madikizela-Mandela said‚ listing her moments of turmoil.

Today the house remains an empty shell despite a government promise years ago to invest millions and convert it into a museum.

In February‚ a poorly attended meeting between the Select Committee on Recreation and Education‚ the Department of Arts and Culture‚ Lejweleputswa District Municipality and the Masilonyana Local Municipality agreed that a multi-million rand refurbishment project would start on April 1 and be completed by October 2019.

The minutes of the meeting were posted on the Parliamentary Monitoring Group website.

But the project has been marred by allegations of corruption.

“R3 million had been made available for the implementation of the project. A number of challenges had arisen‚ including non-payment of the contractor and poor project management‚ and work had not progressed. “However‚ the Director-General stated that the project was back on track and that the Department of Arts and Culture was taking responsibility for the renovations‚” said minutes of the meeting.

The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) was to be tasked with investigating alleged corruption that had delayed the project and "money that could not be accounted for."

Madikizela-Mandela died on Monday‚ a day after the refurbishments were meant to have begun.

Former Free State premier Ace Magashule was among mourners who visited her Soweto home. Speaking outside‚ he quashed claims of any skullduggery around the establishment of the museum.

"The family clearly knows and we know that there hasn't been any money (lost) …. That museum in Brandfort will definitely happen. There is no government money which has been lost anywhere. “The family is on board from 2007 so what the media is saying is something else which we do not know‚" said Magashule.

Minutes and voice recordings from the February meeting revealed that nobody had attended from Magashule's office.

Once completed‚ the house and a nearby clinic will be restored and converted into interpretative spaces. A multi-purpose centre with Wi-Fi facilities and parking will be built.

“The chairperson (Landulile Dlamini) was concerned that the reduction in the allocated funds could cause problems in the future. She emphasised that Winnie Mandela had to be consulted on the project as it was in her name‚” the minutes read. Madikizela-Mandela‚ did not live to see the project completed.