'Black Jesus' blows North West credit limit

Supra Mahumapelo is accused of spending state funds to launch his gospel CD in Sun City last year. (Delwyn Verasamy)

Supra Mahumapelo is accused of spending state funds to launch his gospel CD in Sun City last year. (Delwyn Verasamy)

The ANC's North West ­provincial chairperson, Supra Mahumapelo, spent nearly R42 000 on personal treats, including takeaways, in less than a month, after he was appointed speaker of the provincial legislature in April last year, sources in the province told the Mail & Guardian this week.

Sources in the ANC and the ­provincial government told the M&G that Mahumapelo spent the R42000 during the launch of his music CD at Sun City in the North West. Popularly known as the "Black Jesus" among ANC supporters in the province, he was issued with a government Absa credit card for use when he was on official duties outside the province.

The credit card had a monthly limit of R35 000. However, in May last year, Mahumapelo went on a spending spree, blowing a total of R41733.13 on luxury accommodation and meals at Sun City, allegedly for his family and friends.

According to a statement from Absa, which has been seen by the M&G this week, Mahumapelo spent R22000 on a week's stay at Sun City's Vacation Club.
During the same week, Mahumapelo spent a further R2517 at the Boschdal Guest House and more than R3 000 on petrol at a petrol station just outside the resort.

Mahumapelo also spent just more than R1 000 on Kentucky Fried Chicken during the Sun City stay.

Other accommodation, ­petrol and fast-food costs were later incurred in Mafikeng, Pretoria and Hammanskraal.

Mahumapelo, who professes to have a close relationship with President Jacob Zuma and campaigned for his re-election in the run-up to ANC's elective conference in Mangaung, earns R1652224 a year, according to the government's latest report on salaries and allowances. He also receives a housing and car allowance, and a fully paid cellphone allowance from the provincial government.

Last year, the M&G reported that businesspeople and politicians in North West accused Mahumapelo of having used the ANC's name to earn almost R500 000.

The estimated figure included  donations from the cash-strapped Madibeng municipality for his personal use, including the launch of his debut CD.

Responding to the M&G's questions this week on behalf of Mahumapelo, ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said Mahumapelo had not committed any crime, nor had he violated treasury regulations. He said documents that he had submitted to the legislature would absolve the speaker from any wrongdoing.

Mnisi said that, at times, Mahumapelo's drivers and security were allowed to use the credit card to buy themselves food and soft drinks.

"[On accommodation at Sun City], it is clear that the amount was used to pay for accommodation on the days the speaker was performing his duties in that particular area," he said. "Activities including meetings and preparations for the official opening of Moses Kotane House. All other engagements have been duly recorded as part of security requirements. The CD was launched coincidentally on the same day as the launching of  Moses Kotane House."

Asked about bookings for family, Mnisi said it would be unacceptable for the speaker, "when travelling with his wife, to book separately for her".

"[On the issue of food] the speaker hosts many people on a regular basis, some of whom are poor [and] from the rural areas, and he has to at least provide them with food, just as committees of the legislature meet communities and provide transport, food and drink," said Mnisi.

However, a government official said that, in terms of the Public Finance and Management Act, the accounting officer or his delegate must have approved Mahumapelo's accommodation costs and other expenditure on his trips to Sun City.

Premier Thandi Modise's spokesperson, Lesiba Kgwele, said he was not in a position to comment on the alleged misuse of Mahumapelo's government credit card. He said, if there was a complaint against Mahumapelo, the secretary of the North West provincial legislature would refer the matter to the multiparty ethics committee for investigation.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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