Qedani Mahlangu’s actions come back to haunt her

Former Gauteng economic development minister Qedani Mahlangu has egg on her face after the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered her to reinstate the members of the Gauteng Gambling Board she fired after they resisted her instruction to relocate to new offices.

Mahlangu fired the board and its chair, Prince Mafojane, in 2012 when they questioned her decision to relocate from Bramley in the north of Johannesburg to the city centre.

Mahlangu has since left the provincial department of economic development to head the Gauteng department of infrastructure development, and has been replaced by Nkosiphendule Kolisile.

During her fight with the board, Mahlangu argued that the relocation had followed a decision by the provincial executive council to house all agencies of the Gauteng economic development department in one building.

She reasoned that as MEC she was empowered to instruct the agencies that fell under her portfolio to adhere to and implement operational decisions without having to consult them.

In one of the emails sent to the board's acting chief executive, Ndanduleni Makhari, Mahlangu threatened to fire him if he did not follow her instructions, writing: "I sense that you want to use every trick in the book not to move offices. May I suggest that you speed the process of moving before I lose my cool with you. I want to reiterate what I said to you over the phone … that the board has no role nor responsibility on this matter and if they want to get involved in admin work I will remove all of the board ASAP. If you have serious problems with my decision, please tender your resignation with immediate effect. I want to remind you that I am not here to be liked but to use state resources optimally and therefore consolidation of DED [department of economic development] agencies is part of that."

However, the appeal court said in a judgment last week that Mahlangu had acted beyond her legal powers when she issued the instruction to relocate the board, and that its dissolution had been unlawful and invalid. The court ruled that the board was right to resist the instruction because it was clearly in violation of the Public Finance Management Act and treasury regulations.

The court also expressed "its displeasure at the manner in which the MEC had behaved, over and above the matter in which she had terminated the membership of the board, more particularly her conduct subsequent to the litigation being launched. The MEC, in her response to the opposition by the board, appeared indignant and played the victim. She adopted this attitude whilst acting in flagrant disregard of constitutional norms. She attempted to turn turpitude into rectitude."

Mahlangu intended to relocate the board in order to accommodate African Romance – a diamond beneficiation company owned by Mohseen Moosa, a younger brother of former environmental affairs minister Valli Moosa – in the Bramley building.

The judgment puts Kolisile in a difficult position because he appointed a new board about two months ago.

The board regulates bingo, casino gaming and betting on horse racing and sports events in the province.

Lawyer Bally Chuene is the new chair and former safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi was appointed as his deputy. Other board members include advocate Lentswe Mokgatle, Athletics South Africa administrator Zola Majavu and ­businessman Johnny Sexwale.

Approached for comment, Kolisile told the Mail & Guardian: "We are looking into the matter – interpreting the judgment – and we will find answers on what to do."

Attempts to get comment from Mahlangu proved fruitless, but her spokesperson, Thulasizwe Simelane, said it would be "inappropriate" for her to react because she no longer headed the department.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Charles Molele
Guest Author

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday