/ 12 October 2021

Mabuyane, Madikizela to appear before ANC provincial integrity committee

Mabuyane Ramaphosa
Power play: Oscar Mabuyane (right), the Eastern Cape’s provincial chairperson, is a strong supporter of the ANC’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Lulama Zenzile

The Eastern Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) has instructed Premier Oscar Mabuyane, who is the ANC’s provincial chairperson, and its treasurer, Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela, to submit themselves to the provincial integrity committee (PIC) following a damning report by the public protector. 

The ANC in the province held a special meeting on Monday to consider Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane‘s report on the investigation in the Mbizana local municipality and provincial government departments. 

In a statement on Tuesday, provincial party spokesperson Loyiso Magqashela said the meeting discussed the effect of the matters in the report on the standing of the ANC in society.

“It is in this context that the ANC special PEC meeting reaffirmed the decision and resolutions of its 54th national conference to steadfastly fight against corruption, perceived or real,” he said. 

“The special PEC received a report that both comrades are challenging the public protector report through a judicial review in court. The meeting welcomed the report and the action undertaken by both comrades. The ANC fully respects their legal and constitutional rights as South African citizens to seek recourse.” 

Mkhwebane released a report on Friday, which found that the Eastern Cape government, working with the Mbizana local municipality, misused the R3.3-million allocated for the memorial service, as well as other celebratory events, to honour Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in April 2018.

According to the report, Mabuyane renovated his private residence with some of the money.

Mabuyane, who was the provincial head of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism at the time; transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana; and Madikizela, then the human settlements MEC, “improperly benefitted from the misuse of public funds”, according to the report.

Magqashela said it must be noted that Mabuyane and Madikizela voluntarily offered to appear before the provincial integrity committee in May and June 2019, respectively. 

“They requested to meet the PIC and share their side of the story regarding allegations contained in the media. The PIC in October 2019 cleared both Mabuyane and Madikizela as it found that they were not guilty of any misconduct as was alleged. The PEC has further directed that both comrades should submit the report and update the PIC about the current developments for the PIC to make a judgment call.”

Magqashela said although the ANC respects the office of the public protector as a Chapter 9 institution, it was unfortunate that the report was released shortly before the local government elections, yet it was finalised two months ago.

“This stance and timing regrettable weaponised the belief that the PP [public protector] is a party to intra-party and external factionalism. We strongly appeal to all members of the ANC and broader society to give both Mabuyane and Madikizela space as they seek legal review of both the process and substantive facts around the PP report. The ANC PEC reiterates its position that once there are any new developments regarding this matter, it will act consistently and decisively,” he said. 

The public protector’s office called the ANC’s accusations “baseless”. In a statement on Tuesday, the public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said the office stood by the report and did not stop exercising its powers or performing its functions merely because an election was approaching. 

“That would be at odds with section 181(2) [of the] Constitution, which provides that the office is independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and that it must be impartial and must exercise its powers and perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice. The question that the ANC in the Eastern Cape ought to concern itself with is whether Premier Mabuyane, MEC Madikizela and the party itself benefited from funds siphoned from the public purse under the pretext that the money was going to be used to ferry mourners to the memorial service of Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

“The party should also be seized with whether the manner, pattern and short succession in which the funds were disbursed does not raise a suspicion of a commission of criminal conduct in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act,” Segalwe said.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) has also called for Mabuyane and Madikizela to submit themselves to the integrity committee, saying that the report warrants serious consideration.

SACP provincial spokesperson Siyabonga Mdodi said the ANC resolutions and principles ought to be implemented regardless of who is involved, particularly during the renewal period. “The principled application of the ANC resolutions and principles must always be carried out in a consistent and fair manner.” 

The ANC in the Eastern Cape was the first province to advocate for the step-aside resolution, which ultimately saw the suspension of secretary general Ace Magashule and the removal of provincial level heavyweights Teris Ntunthu, Andile Lungisa, Phumlani Mkolo and Sindiswa Gomba, who faced court charges. Ntuthu was reinstated after the state’s corruption case against him was dropped. 

Mabuyane, a strong ally of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and party chairperson Gwede Mantashe, has been firmly favoured for a second term when the party eventually holds its conference in December. 

Mabuyane and Madikizela will probably go up against each other when the party has its provincial conference. The winner will be the sharpest indication yet of whether Ramaphosa and his allies have the backing of the Eastern Cape, the party’s third-biggest province. 

The Mabuyane and Madikizela matter dates back to August 2018, when Eastern Cape businessman Lonwabo Bam, received two tranches of payments — R1.1-million and R2.2-million — from Mbizana municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka, who paid the money into Mthombeni Projects, which is owned by Bam.

The public protector’s investigation was based on an affidavit deposed by Bam, who detailed that the money was deposited into his business account by Mahlaka at the instruction of Madikizela.

“A number of deposits and transactions or disbursements were subsequently made by Mr Bam towards various proxy bank accounts linked to senior and executive government officials, as instructed by Mr Madikizela,” the public protector said. 

The probe found that private businesses, including taxi associations, “improperly benefited” from the public funds, and senior officials did not leave themselves out of the ill-gotten loot. 

Mabuyane, for example, deposited R450 000 to Allan Morran Design Architectural Services, a private company that carried out renovations at his private house. Morran, according to the investigation, queried the payment as it was unknown to him. 

“At that point, Mr Mabuyane’s wife, Ms Siyasanga Mabuyane, advised Mr Morran, through an email, that the deposit of R450 000 was to be used for renovations of the [Mabuyane]  private house. Despite this, Mr Mabuyane denied any knowledge of the arrangements between Mr. Bam and Mr. Madikizela,” the report said. 

According to the report, Madikizela benefited to the tune of R350 000 through payments into the account of a company owned by his wife, Zona Zetu Siyazithanda Madikizela, while the provincial ANC scored R280 000.

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters has opened a case against the two ANC provincial leaders alleging that they are part of a criminal network in the province. 

EFF chairperson Yazini Tetyana said the Eastern Cape province continues to suffer a serious economic decline, underdevelopment, gross unemployment, abject poverty and more than 60% youth unemployment while the government of the province has led the deindustrialisation of the province and the collapse of all labour-intensive sectors, and has institutionalised corruption in all spheres of government and public institutions. 

“The minimum resources available to the municipalities and provincial government should be used to resuscitate the provincial industrial activity and job creation, but the ANC politicians continue to squander the same resources for their selfish criminal ends,” he said.