MEC recommended ‘lover’ for positions until husband found out

Culture, sport and recreation MEC Lindiwe Ntshalintshali. Picture: Lesetja Malope
Culture, sport and recreation MEC Lindiwe Ntshalintshali. Picture: Lesetja Malope

Ntshalintshali and Thumbathi are now at war, with him claiming she used him and then threw him under the bus when her husband found out

A Mpumalanga man who claimed to be a secret lover of culture, sport and recreation MEC Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, says he lost two jobs after the MEC’s husband found out.

Ntshalintshali (42) is a high-ranking politician in the province.

The former Emalahleni mayor is also the ANC’s provincial acting secretary and her permanent position is deputy secretary.

She is vying to become the provincial deputy chairperson in the upcoming elective conference.

Her strained relationship with Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane, who wants to be the provincial chairperson, is an open secret.

Her husband is Emalahleni entrepreneur Mfanimpela Ntshalintshali (45).

But the MEC has denied ever being in a relationship with Mbuso Thumbathi (35).

Thumbathi claims she appointed him as her adviser last October, but he was turned away and humiliated when he reported for work on his first day.

Thumbathi was allegedly told that the department did not have a budget for the position, but other individuals employed by the MEC’s office at the same time – messenger Amukelani Gazide and parliamentary liaison officer Josias Motsoeneng – started work that day.

Sources within the department said Ntshalintshali’s former chief of staff, Kingdom Mabuza, was sent to tell Thumbathi the bad news.

According to Thumbathi, her husband allegedly caught wind of the appointment and told his wife not to go ahead with it because he already knew that he was being cuckolded.

Thumbathi, a communications strategist, linguist and political analyst, confirmed that when he reported for duty on October 10 last year, Mabuza told him that there was no budget for the position.

“Mabuza spoke for 20 minutes on the phone as I waited to be allocated an office. I understand that he was speaking to Ntshalintshali, who was instructing him to make sure I was turned back,” Thumbathi said.

“The MEC later blamed the head of department [Godfrey Ntombela] for ruining her plans to hire me. She said the head of department worked with the premier, the finance MEC Pat Ngomane and her husband in frustrating the plans,” Thumbathi said.

“The MEC is a pathological liar. There’s no way a head of department can prepare a memo to an MEC without facts. Ntombela’s memo – shown to me by the MEC – has all the details, including a starting date. There’s no way budgetary issues could be a reason [and], if that was the case, the MEC should have charged the head of department for misleading her.”

Before receiving his appointment letter, Thumbathi said was already doing some of Ntshalintshali’s work, such as preparing her speaking notes for an interview at Rise FM; writing her speech to be delivered at the National Heritage Council; and accompanying her on an official visit to Matsamo Cultural Park, near the eSwatini border. “She insisted that I must work because I was officially on the job even though I had not received an appointment letter,” Thumbathi said.

He said Ntshalintshali’s husband had then phoned and texted him, threatening to kill him for having an affair with his wife.

The threats prompted him to lay charges with the police in Mbombela last week.

“I opened a case because her husband said he was going to kill me after finding out about the affair.”

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdhluli confirmed that a case of intimidation had been opened.

However, Ntshalintshali denied that her husband stopped her appointment of Thumbathi, saying: “No. My husband doesn’t run my office affairs. Since my appointment he has not visited my office.”

Thumbathi said he had not bothered to ask if Ntshalintshali was married.

“I don’t remember seeing a ring on her finger during the first few days. She later wore a few rings … some women keep their wedding rings when they’re widowed or divorced. I didn’t understand her situation or bothered to ask.”

The second job

Ntshalintshali also allegedly appointed Thumbathi as her representative at the National Heritage Council.

She reversed that appointment last week.

Thumbathi said he received a call from the council informing him that the MEC had withdrawn his appointment.

This happened in the wake of a leaked audio recording – about an hour long – in which Ntshalintshali and Thumbathi can be heard discussing sensitive matters of her department in a hotel.

Ntshalintshali said on Friday night that she had no idea how the recording was made, but she suspected it came from her colleagues in the ANC provincial executive committee and cabinet members who had been spreading these rumours for five months.

“I’m not sure about the authenticity of the recording, because I never granted permission to be recorded. So, if there is any recording, it is against the law and somebody must take ownership and we will deal with it legally,” Ntshalintshali said.

She said the recording had everything to do with ANC political infighting in the province and the upcoming elective conference.

Ntshalintshali said there had been allegations of plots to physically attack her since she was hijacked at Ogies about a year ago.

These plots, she said, included a burglary at her home.

“Being an acting provincial secretary for two years has been difficult, with constant [verbal] attacks in meetings [and] during the list processes and [the] dissolution of ghost branches and realignment of the Ehlanzeni region.

“[I’ve been] challenging the status quo of micro-management of the [provincial ANC] and government,” Ntshalintshali said.

She said she had reported the matter to the relevant authorities and investigations were under way. She also intended pursuing legal action.

Ntshalintshali said her husband was not aware of the audio recording.

She also denied being in an extramarital affair with Thumbathi, appointing him in her office and discussing sensitive departmental matters with him.

“There was never any appointment of Thumbathi in my office,” she said. She also rubbished claims of nepotism and a conflict of interest in the appointment.

Ntshalintshali put the blame on her former chief of staff. “Mabuza resigned from my office and it was him who called Thumbathi without the knowledge of [the] human resources [department] and myself. There was no appointment or interview conducted,” she said.

In the hotel recording, which City Press has heard, she threatened to fire Mabuza and her private secretary because they were not doing their jobs.

She accused Mabuza of failing to pass on documents from the head of department’s office and leaving her to go alone to gatherings without an aide or speaking notes.

“It’s like he [Mabuza] is sabotaging the office,” Ntshalintshali is heard saying. “And I’ll tell them [is] that you’ve not been helping me.”

Mabuza resigned because of the deteriorating relationship between him and the MEC who was said to be uncomfortable that he was close to politicians in the rival faction.

“The resignation of Kingdom Mabuza has [exposed] his secret relationship with [agriculture] MEC Vusi Shongwe and Pat Ngomane [finance MEC]. It is alleged that he has been appointed [to work] in Shongwe’s department,” Ntshalintshali said.

Shongwe and Ngomane are her political rivals who are supporting Mtshweni-Tsipane to be the next provincial ANC chairperson.

Mabuza laughed off Ntshalintshali’s allegations.

“She’s just drawing in irrelevant issues,” he said.

She used me

Thumbathi told City Press that his romantic relationship with Ntshalintshali was a “by-the-way” thing.

She used me. She promised me heaven and earth. She knew I was ambitious and good at what I do. She was serviced left, right and centre.

“I never asked her out. We were meant to work. Whatever happened was a ‘by-the-way thing’. It helped and worked for her. I was never attracted to her.

“I just liked her attitude. She always presented herself as a people’s person and a servant of the people and these attributes resonated with my value system and general outlook and spirit,” he said.

Thumbathi said she used him and then threw him under the bus when her husband found out.

Just before he was supposed to start working in her office, Thumbathi said that the MEC phoned him and said her husband did not approve of them working together.

“She used me. She promised me heaven and earth. She knew I was ambitious and good at what I do. She was serviced left, right and centre.

“She didn’t mind phoning me as late as 11.30pm to ask for a favour and share matters that worried her politically and otherwise,” said Thumbathi.

In light of the allegations against her, Ntshalintshali said she did not intend resigning from her position.

Her husband did not respond to written questions, WhatsApp and text messages.

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