Our Speaker's mouth-watering shopping listThursday, 08/03/2012 - 15:55
The Speaker of the Gauteng legislature requested that her office buy groceries amounting to thousands of rand.
The request was granted and was signed for by the head of finance. The shopping order for Lindiwe Maseko took place in March last year and was sent to the City Spar in Meyersdal, where groceries consisting mainly of snacks and drinks were bought. Hard drinks (two cases of Glenfiddich 15 years old, times two, with 12 in each case, and two cases of Meerlust wine with six bottles each) were also ordered, but were not part of the Spar shopping order.
The list is very detailed, giving the flavours of certain food items and also has items of a personal nature such as Rennies, Gaviscon, pads, tampons and tissues. Some of the food items were honeyed ginger tea times 48, Jacobs Kronung coffee times six, diabetic sugar times 12, Special K times six, biltong (dried worse barbecue flavour) times 24, cashew nuts (chilli, ' salty and fruits) times 24. The shopping list was authorised as "groceries speaker" and totalled R10 998 for everything, excluding the hard drinks. At R500 a bottle for the Glenfiddich 15 year old and R229.95 for the Meerlust wine, this would come to R14 757 extra.
The Spar order was signed under the "head of finance Willie Sambo". But legislature spokeswoman Nondumiso Msomi said the grocery list had not been for the personal or private consumption of Maseko, but that of her office. "In her capacity as the Speaker of the Gauteng legislature, the Speaker hosts local as well as international dignitaries from time to time, and as is tradition, guests are offered refreshments," Msomi said. "As the office of the Speaker is often visited by guests and members of the public, there are times when there are emergency requests that the Speaker's office provides for. All other items in the document form part of that emergency supply"
The DA disagrees, with the party's chief whip, Glenda Steyn, saying the grocery list can be viewed as wasteful expenditure. "If the Speaker is spending government funds on personal items, then it is an act we strongly frown upon," said Steyn. "It can be viewed as wasteful expenditure and transgresses the Public Finance Management Act."
Steyn said the funds could have been put to good use; "instead it was spent one item like expensive whisky and wine".
The grocery list has come to light after questions over a potential conflict of interest around Maseko have arisen after a gala dinner for been the opening of the legislature was hosted at the Coca-Cola Dome. The Dome's official caterers are Delmont Caldow, a company that is partly owned by Maseko's daughter Edna.
The legislature has officially said it was pure coincidence that the gala dinner was hosted at the Dome, but on Talk Radio 702, legislature secretary Peter Skosana said they had not been aware that the Speaker's family had links to Delmont Caldow.
Corruption Watch issued a statement on its Facebook page that the Speaker and members of her family should not own a company that is an actual or potential service provider to the Gauteng legislature.
The watchdog said Maseko and her family should either give up their interests in the company, or she should give up her role at the legislature.
"What she can't do is remain on both sides of a contract, and no amount of declaring will resolve that," Corruption Watch said.
This article originally appeared in the Star on 2 March 2012.