There is a misperception that the Gauteng ANC is more enlightened than the party’s other provinces.
It was here in Gauteng that former president Jacob Zuma was frequently booed, including at a 2013 memorial service for Nelson Mandela. ANC structures here have not been Zuma supporters.
But they do have ANC bad habits: rewarding miscreants and spreading fake news.
Over the weekend Qedani Mahlangu, politically responsible for the Life Esidimeni tragedy, and Brian Hlongwa, accused of looting R1.2 billion from the Gauteng health department, were re-elected to the provincial executive.
And for those with short memories, the provincial ANC made headlines by announcing it was opposed to e-tolls. That is exactly what the Gauteng ANC announced at its elective conference in 2014. The same “news” was repeated in 2016. What changed? E-toll gantries are still there, firing blanks at hundreds of thousands of noncompliant motorists.
Gauteng ANC’s alleged opposition to e-tolls is not news. It will be news if it does something that will lead to the scrapping of e-tolls. Until then, it’s merely pre-election hype.
And when Mahlangu was elected to the provincial executive, it was not an aberration. The party’s attitude to the families of the 144 who died during the Life Esidimeni (should be Esidimeni Death?) tragedy has long been callous.
Last year, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, who was also ANC national chair, refused a request for a moment of silence in honour of the 144 victims before the State of the Nation address. In her refusal, Mbete was supported by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.
Today, fingers can be pointed at Gauteng Premier David Makhura, whose previous assurances on the matter sound hollow. In an interview with SAfm’s Stephen Grootes this month, Makhura said of Esidimeni: “There will be justice. I made a commitment to the affected families that I will walk all the way with them to ensure that justice is served.”
He has walked all the way to hypocrisy.
As Mahlangu’s boss at the time of Esidimeni “Death”, he bears some political responsibility for what happened. Even if he did persuade her to resign, her election to the provincial executive puts the spotlight back on his political judgment. Re-elected unopposed as provincial leader, Makhura did not use his obvious influence to discourage Mahlangu’s elevation.
However, fingers cannot be pointed only at Makhura. Mahlangu and Hlongwa were voted on to the provincial executive by ANC delegates who must be fully aware of the baggage these two carry. Hlongwa, who remains ANC whip in the Gauteng Legislature, has been implicated in a Special Investigating Unit report.
Makhura is on record as saying any action against Hlongwa will depend on advice from the ANC’s integrity committee (an oxymoron) and any court proceedings. In this respect Hlongwa, like so many others, is being treated with kid gloves by the party.
For some reason, the ANC made an exception for Errol Present, who was arrested but not convicted, in connection with cash-in-transit heists. He must be in the wrong ANC faction.
Should these moral equivocators be running South Africa’s most important province?