Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation Faith Mazibuko has again defended her utterances made in a leaked “divisive” audio recording of her taken during an executive management meeting.
After appearing before the South African Human Rights Commission on Tuesday to account for her comments, Mazibuko told journalists that it was “never her intention to segregate nor victimise the head of department and the chief financial officer.
Last month an audio recording of Mazibuko using what the Human Rights Commission termed “divisive language” directed towards her head of department Monica Newton and chief financial officer Priya Lutchman made the rounds on social media. Mazibuko was subsequently hauled before the commission and asked to account for her actions.
Following her explanation to the South African Human Rights Commission on what led to the utterances, the commission ruled that the MEC should undergo a “day-long” sensitivity and diversity programme.
In her rant Mazibuko said: “I empower you, you are not empowerable. Which other department has an Indian that is a chief financial officer? Which department has a head of department that is a mlungu (white person)? Ayikho (there is none), including national.”
Commission deputy chairperson Priscilla Jana said there were numerous complaints lodged with the commission but because of the nature of the utterances the commission had taken it upon itself to get to the bottom of the issue.
She said given South Africa’s historically divisive nature it was of paramount importance that public officials be sensitive to such issues.
However, Jana added that the commission was “satisfied” with the “plausible and reasonable” context and account for the utterances given by Mazibuko in the closed meeting between the MEC and the Human Rights Commission.
When addressing the media after the closed meeting Mazibuko “profusely” apologised for the sentiments she expressed during the executive management meeting saying: “I understand how the comments can be taken out of contexts and be offensive to some people.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the commission for inviting me here and affording me the opportunity to clarify what happened.”
She added that in the meeting she had just been told by her head of department and the chief financial officer that a contract to provide combined courts (combi courts) provided by sports trust had ended.
“To me it didn’t sound convincing ... I became angry plus I talk loud so that could be construed as me shouting or intimidating the head of department and chief financial officer,” she said.
“I singled those two out because the head of department and the chief financial officer are the people who account for everything.”
“It was not my intention to segregate them nor to victimise them as it may have been construed from the leaked audio. I was merely frustrated by the expiry of the contract and the fact that when we go out and do door-to-doors communities would be quizzing us on where their combined courts are,” added Mazibuko.
The MEC also said that she had been hauled before the ANC’s integrity commission, and she was meant to get the ruling today.
“I was meant to appear before the integrity committee today to find out what their ruling was. However, since I had to also appear before the Human Rights Commission I had to request that we postpone that engagement,” she said.
She also disputed any suggestion as implied in the audio recording that she wanted to use the combined courts for ANC campaign.
“To say as the ANC we want to campaign using combi courts is not true because in September we had already agreed on places that needed combi courts with members of the mayoral committee after identifying them during the Gauteng Premier’s Ntirhisano community outreach project,” she said.