More trouble for Mahlangu
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.”