Mosebenzi Zwane: Only 50 houses built from R1,4bn — five of his most surprising quotes

 

The poor are the biggest losers in the failed housing scheme orchestrated by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, who in 2010 was then Premier of Free State, and Mosebenzi Zwane – who was the MEC for housing. The pair were tasked with building 55,000 low cost houses to alleviate the less fortunate in the province. Under Tokyo Sexwale, who was the minister of Human Settlements, a budget of R1,4bn was allocated and when the Free State province realised they were running out of time to meet the deadline to spend the money, a database of housing contractors was created and R630m paid to them in four months. While Zwane has been implicated by former housing executives who worked closely with him, he has since denied being behind the plan to spend the R1,4bn, rather placing blame on Magashule’s doorstep. Zwane has testified over two days at the Zondo Commission where he has also denied knowing what the housing act entails. – Bernice Maune. 

By Bernice Maune

1. Database of disqualified tender bidders

Two housing officials implicated Mosebenzi Zwane as having created a list of contractors for the accounting department to make prepayments to. This database included companies that did not meet the stringent procurement requirements but monies were paid to them anyway, the Zondo commission heard. Zwane said he did not personally create the database and was simply handed a list that previous MECs had consulted. In addition, Zwane said a new tender process was approved to include the disabled, young people and women.

“I may not know the details chair, but when I asked what was going to be the difference, I was told that the database has been used by previous MECS before me to construct houses so there would be no issue to use a database.

“The two processes were not categorised under the same understanding. The process of the tender of building houses would be entered into year by year. The process of building bigger houses was not going to be part of the specification in regards to calling for a tender as far as I can remember.”

2. Recovery plan for billions, Mosebenzi Zwane says war room was for updates on housing

According to Mpho Mokoena and Nthimotse Mokhesi, who both served as the Free State Head of Department at Human Settlements during the period the R1,4bn scheme was devised and approved, war room meetings were held and chaired by Zwane. At one meeting, Mokhesi says he was threatened and told to resign if he did not go along with Zwane’s plan to spend the housing money. However, Zwane has since denied this, saying he attended one war room meeting.

“The meeting of the war rooms were where officials would deal with the process and highlight any challenges. I would go to the meetings as and when needed. I don’t recall myself participating in the recovery plan except to say I went to the meeting to get an update on what we are going to do as we started late. The war room was a structure that was there to ensure we did what we had to do,” said Zwane.

Read also: Mosebenzi Zwane, former housing MEC, in plan to grab R1bn

3. Policies on housing

In making pre-payments to contractors, some of them disqualified, the Free State housing department flouted tender regulations and the municipal act. Contractors were supposed to source their own building materials and submit invoices for payment after the job was complete. In this case, a handful of houses were built with R200m spent on surveys and title deeds. Zwane says he was not familiar with the housing act but admitted to receiving an employment pack containing the housing act.

“I may not recall in terms of the package but in my recollection I did get that pack. ”

4. Exco business

Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s team of MECs was known as the exco, says Zwane. This exco implemented the R1,4bn housing plan which Zwane explains he passed on. His version disputed that of Mokoena and Mokhesi who said he was at the helm of the scheme.

“At that particular time what I did, which I thought was sufficient and was not challenged at any level, was to submit this idea at the exco. The exco agreed to this, so when I went back to implement, it was no longer a decision of one person who is an MEC, it was a decision endorsed by the collective including all HoD [heads of departments] of the province.”

5. Zwane claims illiteracy 

Throughout his testimony, Zwane has denied knowledge of the housing scheme or running it.  He has even gone as far as to lament that he couldn’t read or understand the housing act.

“I was an MEC who followed the prescripts of the law as much as I could understand them. I could not read this law [Housing Act] because I didn’t know about it,” said Zwane.

Watch Mosebenzi Zwane’s full testimony below: 

 

Comment by email:

A suggestion to help show the massive problems

Ie The 50 houses built for 1.4bn seems so quick, easy and short to type and remember, I think  typing the amount out in full will convey a larger eye catching perception of the gravity of the amount R1.4bn  R1.400.000,000.00

Warm Regards

Don

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