- The Democratic Alliance (DA) in South Africa has called for a full investigation into claims that money designated for development projects was illegally used to fund celebrations at the home of the new president Jacob Zuma, in Kwazulu-Natal in December last year.
"DA is appalled by allegations that a party was thrown for President Jacob Zuma using R2.5-million in RDP-designated funds," the party's MP, Patricia Kopane, said in a statement today.
Ms Kopane also called on the head of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Fezile Makiwane, who is alleged to have personally approved of this fund transfer, to resign immediately unless a plausible explanation is provided for his conduct.
"I will write tomorrow to the Public Protector asking for an immediate investigation into what appears to be a gross abuse of state funds, as well as to the new Minister of Social Development, Edna Molewa, requesting her to clarify what action will be taken to ensure that no similar abuses will be allowed to occur again in future," said Ms Kopane in a statement.
According to reports, the money that was designated to be spent on social development projects, such as paying for chairs, buildings, toilets, generators and wheelchairs, but was diverted within a few days of a questionable requisition to fund the plush party at the ANC presidents home.
"It is even more astonishing that it took SASSA only three days to release the money to Mabheleni Ntuli, the Durban-based businessman who apparently then used the funds on the party," said the DA's statement further raising concern that a further R1.8-million was allegedly raised by the same Mr Ntuli in a similar way, again from an RDP-designated fund and approved personally by Mr Makiwane.
The DA said the money was designated for social development but had instead been abused for the purposes of ANC patronage.
"One of the new minister's first orders of business must be to root out the all too pervasive corruption in the Department of Social Development, if that department is to fulfill its function of caring for the most vulnerable members of our society. We will be watching her very closely to ensure that all necessary remedial action is taken and that money meant for South Africans who are in desperate need of assistance is not wasted on ANC cronies' extravagant needs," Ms Kopane's statement concluded.
The alleged plush party is said to have been held on 29 December at Mr Zuma's traditional home in Nkandla. However, reports from the South African media have reported the office of the president distancing him from having any knowledge on how the money for the party was raised, only saying the event was funded through several businessmen and events.
Mr Zuma, who was sworn-in as South Africa's fourth president on 9 May had gone to the elections with a hatch of a possible criminal court appearance removed over him just a few days before the polls. Charges of corruption against him were dropped by the national prosecutors in a move that was widely criticised by the opposition as having been politically influenced.
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