“The best way to honour Nelson Mandela is for this government to prioritise education, healthcare and the delivery of services to the people.” – DA regional spokesperson
An R8.3 million bronze statue of former president, Nelson Mandela, has received mixed reviews from political parties and Mpumalanga residents.
It’s not because the statue of the late great Madiba is the result of poor workmanship and it’s not because the South African liberator doesn’t deserve respect.
The reason this specific statue has sparked outrage is because it has drained millions of rands in state funds that would have been better spent on alleviating poverty in the embattled Mpumalanga province. This is according to a report by The Sowetan, which cites the community’s reaction to the statue, which was unveiled on Friday, at the government complex in Mbombela.
Photo via Facebook: Menzi Mashobane Khumalo
The contentious statue, which was commissioned by the department of sports, arts and culture and inaugurated by Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni, was revealed in celebration of Madiba’s 100th birthday and heritage month.
But, despite members of the public and local politicians acknowledging the importance of honouring Madiba, they’ve been left questioning the costs involved in the construction of the statue, arguing that Mandela himself would not approve the expenses while community members suffered under financial strain.
Opposition parties hit back at the ANC
Collen Sedibe, the regional chairperson of The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), blasted the African National Congress (ANC) for the unwarranted wastage of state funds, saying:
“Children want libraries, books and other services like sports facilities but our arts and culture department opts to build a statue that is costly. We can’t have Mandela statues everywhere when our people are deep in poverty.
The ANC is stealing the money to buy votes during elections, so these costly statues are their way to loot.”
Sedibe added that the costs associated with the statue do not take into account the unveiling ceremony, which, in itself, was a pricey affair, saying:
“If the statue itself is R8.3m and with the ceremony where they hired tents, catering and bought ANC T-shirts, we are talking of R20 million. We can’t keep quiet when a government event is turned into an ANC campaign.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) also bemoaned the ANC’s wasteful expenditure, insinuating that costs involved with the statue’s construction and unveiling were a way for the ruling party to loot state funds under the guise of Madiba celebrations.
In an official statement, penned by DA Provincial Communications Manager, Dumusile Masuku, the official opposition party confirmed that it has asked the Auditor-General to investigate the statue’s bid adjudication process, saying:
“One of the rejected bids would have cost a total of R2.7 million but the provincial Department of Culture Sports and Recreation ultimately chose a company that charged over three times that amount.
The ANC in Mpumalanga has developed a tendency to use Nelson Mandela’s name and memory as a disguise for dubious financial dealings.
The people of Mpumalanga continue to be burdened with rising unemployment, inadequate healthcare facilities and poor service delivery that has ensured that thousands of people remain in the clutches of poverty.
The best way to honour Nelson Mandela is for this government to prioritise education, healthcare and the delivery of services to the people in order to build a united South Africa for all.”
Mpumalanga government defends Mandela statue
Despite the outcry over the exorbitant funds allocated to the construction of the Madiba statue, Mtsweni defended the procurement process and justified the commission, saying:
“We all know the role Tata Mandela played and we want our future generation to know it by seeing the statue here. This is a way to thank and show how Mandela played a part in our liberation as a country.
We have saved money and [spent] less than what we had budgeted for.”