More trou­ble for Mahlangu

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For­mer Gaut­eng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is not off the hook yet and could still face the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion. The pro­posal for her to ac­count to the ANC was made dur­ing a heated sit­ting of the party’s pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (PEC) on Fri­day night.

If the com­mis­sion was to con­clude that her ac­tions brought the party into dis­re­pute, it could rec­om­mend that she face dis­ci­plinary charges.

The meet­ing also saw the ANC Youth League’s Gaut­eng lead­er­ship pre­sented with an ul­ti­ma­tum to re­tract their state­ment, or face sus­pen­sion, for call­ing for the sack­ing of Pre­mier David Makhura fol­low­ing the death of 94 men­tally ill pa­tients after they were re­lo­cated out of the Life Esidimeni Hospi­tal to NGOs.

In a sit­ting which went on un­til the early hours of Satur­day morn­ing, the youth league was threat­ened with sus­pen­sion from the ANC for also lay­ing crim­i­nal charges against Makhura and Mahlangu.

Ten­sions es­ca­lated yesterday fol­low­ing the meet­ing, when a state­ment re­tract­ing the call for Makhura to step down sur­faced.

The state­ment is be­lieved to be a draft, which was penned by the PEC, a move which has in­censed some in the youth league who have gone as far as to dis­tance them­selves from the state­ment.

Mahlangu’s res­ig­na­tion – de­scribed by Gaut­eng ANC chair­per­son Paul Mashatile as coura­geous, un­prece­dented and “demon­strat­ing lead­er­ship” – came on the eve of the re­lease of the damn­ing re­port.

City Press has learnt that Mahlangu ini­tially re­fused to re­sign but was also given an ul­ti­ma­tum, with Makhura al­legedly go­ing as far as to threaten to fire her pub­li­cally.

The pre­mier learnt of the ex­tent of the tragedy in De­cem­ber last year. He is said to have con­sulted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe and Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi. The three are said to have en­dorsed his decision to get rid of Mahlangu. This was ev­i­denced in the state­ment re­leased by the ANC on Thurs­day which lauded the Gaut­eng PEC for their swift ac­tion on the om­buds­man’s re­port, but slammed the youth league for their response which the state­ment re­ferred to as “fac­tional”.

Go­ing into the meet­ing, mem­bers of the ANC Youth League PEC were adamant that they would not back down from their po­si­tion. They be­lieve all is not lost as the ANC PEC re­solved that Mahlangu should ap­pear be­fore the in­tegrity com­mis­sion.

On Fri­day, youth league chair­per­son Matome Chiloane told City Press that the youth league had assem­bled a team of lawyers to as­sist fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. It is al­leged that one of the vic­tims is the mother of the deputy chair­per­son of the youth league in Tsh­wane.

Chiloane ex­plained that the call for Makhura to go was about demon­strat­ing to the pub­lic that the ANC could be held ac­count­able for its ac­tions.

“The op­po­si­tion will use the deaths as lever­age in [the] 2019 [elec­tions] and that will have noth­ing to do with Matome, it is a fact they are go­ing to use it,” he said.

How­ever, Mashatile de­fended Makhura dur­ing his po­lit­i­cal re­port at the PEC meet­ing, saying that he should be “com­mended for the swift­ness with which [he] is im­ple­ment­ing the out­comes of the re­port in­clud­ing the re­me­dial ac­tions con­tained therein as this goes to demon­strate that we are a car­ing govern­ment”.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, a youth league pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber told City Press that they could not “deal with” Makhura as they wanted to be­cause the om­buds­man’s re­port did not im­pli­cate him di­rectly but that they would still look for ways to, “hold him to ac­count”, in the com­ing months.

He said both pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tives of the league and the ANC were “at log­ger­heads”.

“There is no way they can smoke a peace pipe.”

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