ANC lets two disgraced former Health MECs off the hook

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

ANC Gauteng leaders Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa will remain on the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC), the ANC said, despite their respective roles in the Life Esidimeni and a R1.2bn corruption scandal.

Hlongwa was implicated along with other officials in a report by the specialised investigative unit (SIU) into corrupt activities to the tune of R1.2bn during his tenure as a former Gauteng Health MEC.

Mahlangu was hauled before the integrity committee for her role as Health MEC in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of at least 144 psychiatric patients after they were transferred from the institution to several unlicensed NGOs. She has since resigned from her position.

Polity reports that the PEC spent Sunday evening deliberating the outcomes of its integrity commission’s investigation into the two leaders and former Emfuleni mayor Simon Mofokeng. It recommended that Mahlangu and Hlongwa step down from the structure and that the membership of all three be revoked for a period.

ANC Gauteng secretary Jacob Khawe said: “The PIC (provincial integrity commission) recommended that the comrades not hold any public office positions, which the PEC agreed to. It further made recommendations in relation to the membership of the comrades, both in the ANC and its structures. The PEC disagreed with these recommendations, as it was the view of the PEC that this is the purview of a constitutional disciplinary committee and not the integrity committee.”

The report says when asked to clarify some aspects of the statement, ANC Gauteng spokesperson Tasneem Motara said the PEC did not want to go with findings that would either be challenged or overturned at a later stage. “As a province, we felt that the recommendations weren’t in accordance with our constitution, which says issues of membership are dealt with by the disciplinary committee,” she said.

Motara added that the ANC in Gauteng was aware of a similar matter at national level, where the national integrity commission recommended that Limpopo party officials implicated in the VBS scandal step down. “We are waiting to see how the NEC (national executive committee) deals with that. It will set a precedent for us. We can’t make sanctions that will be later overturned,” she is quoted as saying.

The report says Hlongwa has asked to be relieved of his duties as the ANC’s chief whip in the Gauteng legislature. He has been implicated along with other officials in a report by the specialised investigative unit into corrupt activities to the tune of R1.2-bilion during his tenure as health MEC. “This decision has been informed by the need to resolve the eight-year-long accusations, without having the matter aired in the courts of the country,” he said.

The report says Mahlangu was hauled before the integrity committee for her role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of at least 144 psychiatric patients after they were transferred from the institution to several unlicensed NGOs. She has since resigned from her position.

“The PEC emphasised that the process followed and recommendations made by the (integrity commission) on the comrades concerned, is not in any way a declaration of guilt on their part, given that the ANC is not a court of law and is not in a position to prejudge any judicial process that is either unfolding or may unfold,” Khawe said.

He added that the cases should not be treated lightly because the matter had taken its toll on both the party and the individuals concerned.

Polity report

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