Vandalised houses, medical equipment standing idle and unused taxi ranks – the promises Ace Magashule made to the people of the Free State are literally falling apart.
House that Ace Magashule built
Ace Magashule has created an image of himself as a man of the people – Saint Ace of the Free State, a saviour of the poor.
While he insists there was no corruption in the Free State during his eight-year tenure as premier,
his legacy is littered with failed, incomplete or stagnant projects and developments.
Magashule’s State of the Province addresses and public comments are peppered with
promises of better housing, not “a kasi township”, improved access to healthcare and better services.
But a closer look at some of the celebrated multimillion-rand projects launched while he
was at the helm has shown them to be monumental flops that have cost the province
hundreds of millions of rands while failing to deliver on his promises.
Magashule resigned as premier in 2018 to take up the post of secretary -general of the ANC.
Here are six failed projects left behind in his wake.
Hillside View Mixed Housing
The project was launched in 2016. In his February 2016 State of the Province Address
(Sopa), Magashule said 400 of the 950 social housing units at the project would be completed by June 2016.
In 2017, the Free State Department of Human Settlements proposed in a five-year
integrated human settlements plan to allocate R21.8-million for 600 RDP houses in the
development as well as R34.2-million for 955 social housing units and R408.9-million for infrastructure.
In October 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa handed over 230 houses to the beneficiaries of the project.
It was said, at the time, that it would take until 2022 for the entire project to be completed.
The housing development south of Bloemfontein now stands derelict.
Many of the houses are unoccupied, and some have been vandalised.
“The manner in which this whole process was done is not right,” lamented Gregory Nthatisi, ANC MK Veterans National Council secretary-general.
Nthatisi, a one-time ally of Magashule, described Magashule as a monster who,
he claimed, put patronage before the interests of ordinary citizens, and veterans in particular.
Attempts to get comment from the Free State Housing Department were unsuccessful.
In 2010, it was decided that the Ramkraal Prison in Bloemfontein would be converted into the seat of the Free State Legislature.
However, by 2017, it was reported that nothing had been done to the prison despite
R100-million of the R120-million budget already being spent. The missing millions could not be accounted for.
By July 2018, the matter was under investigation by the Auditor-General.
However, the investigation was soon tripped up by a lack of documents and invoices that
referred to “non-tangible things” difficult to verify, Aletta van Tromp, the Auditor-General’s
executive responsible for investigations told the provincial legislature at the time.
Little work has been done at the site. All that is visible are the ruins of the partly demolished apartheid-era Ramkraal Prison.
“China” buses continue to gather dust
Multimillion-rand medical buses that were bought from MediQuip Hub SA,
a medical equipment supplier that landed lucrative tenders from the Free State Health Department
and at the time had a Magashule ally on its board, are gathering dust at various health facilities.
When DM168 visited the Bloemfontein Psychiatric Complex this week, two buses were
parked under a roof, exactly where they had been parked three years ago.
Spotlight reported in Daily Maverick in 2018 that in April 2016,
the Free State tender bulletin announced MediQuip was awarded its first major tender in the province. T
his tender was for the provision of mobile medical units (a kind of mobile clinic),
or “China buses” as they are commonly referred to in the province.
The department indicated at the time that it had paid MediQuip about R70-million under this tender for six of these medical units.
And while the announcement was made in April 2016, this tender was awarded in October 2015.
The October 2015 date is only half a year after Tefetso Bernard Phitsane became a director of MediQuip.
Phitsane is a senior ANC politician in the Free State.
He is the chairperson of the beleaguered Bloem Water and is a close ally of Magashule.
Mobile medical units in the Free State and North West made headlines following exposés
about contracts being awarded to the Gupta-linked company Mediosa.
The six mobile clinics were going to be operated by Mediosa before that link was exposed and stopped.
After the failure to deploy the mobile buses was exposed, the Department of Health
claimed it was recruiting full-time drivers for the buses,
which are not able to operate on rural roads and need drivers with special permits.
Mobile X-ray machines stand idle
MediQuip, which developed a track record of supplying inferior medical equipment to the Free State Health Department,
sent five mobile X-ray units, each costing R2.5-million,
to Pelonomi Hospital in 2018, but they were due to be returned after a key part of the machines was too short,
making them unusable and increasing the risk of radiation exposure for patients.
An investigation by SA TIMES NEWS this week revealed that these machines are in a
storeroom at the hospital’s radiology department where they are standing idle.
A doctor who spoke to DM168 this week said corruption had devastated the province’s
Radiology Department, which used to be world-class. He said the lack of proper
equipment placed a massive burden on the department as well as doctors in need of X-ray facilities.
Free State health department spokesperson Elke de Witt said they would not be able to
comment in the given time as “all the relevant information was still being gathered from
the various units in the Department”.
In 2014, Ace Magashule stated the province’s intention to build community residential units in
Silver City Hostels as part of the province’s social housing programme. In January and
February 2017, the provincial portfolio committee on human settlements conducted an
oversight to assess various plans, projects and programmes, including Silver City.
They found that R11.2-million of the R123.6-million budget had been spent and that 18
units out of the estimated 526 had been constructed.
The estimated date of completion was March 2017.
The development in the Bocha-belaa area of Mangaung is still to be completed.
Mangaung Taxi Rank
Since construction was completed in 2011, the taxi rank has not been used as taxi
operators say it is unusable.
It was budgeted to cost R400-million to construct but was allegedly not built to specifications and only for R40-million.
In 2017, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigated alleged irregularities in the project.
A year later she reported that she found no evidence of maladministration