‘If I stay it will distract the movement’ – Brian Hlongwa

Brian Hlongwa. Picture: Johnny Onverwacht
Brian Hlongwa. Picture: Johnny Onverwacht

The ANC in Gauteng has rejected the integrity commission’s recommendations that its leaders Brian Hlongwa, Simon Mofokeng and Qedani Mahlangu should be axed from the party.

Despite this, Hlongwa stepped down as the party’s provincial chief whip earlier today.

On Sunday, the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) met to deliberate over the outcomes of the integrity commission’s investigation into the three members.

Hlongwa was linked to allegations of corruption amounting to R1.2 billion. This happened when he was the Gauteng’s health MEC between 2006 and 2009. The DA and EFF have been calling for Hlongwa to step down.

Mofokeng resigned as the Emfuleni Local Municipality mayor after he was accused of sexually grooming a 14-year-old girl while Mahlangu – who is the former Gauteng health MEC – has been blamed for the Life Esidimeni tragedy which involved the death of more than 100 patients.

The election of Hlongwa and Mahlangu as PEC members during the ANC provincial conference in July raised eyebrows.

The ANC in the province said the PEC was of the view that this was the purview of a constitutional disciplinary committee and not the integrity commission.

“Noting the toll that this matter has taken both on the organisation and on the individuals concerned, the PEC reflected on the broad implications of its decision on the cases and was unanimous that these should be not treated lightly given the role and responsibility of the ANC to the people of this province. The PEC emphasised that the process followed and recommendations made by the [provincial integrity commission], on the comrades concerned, is not in any way a declaration of guilt on their part, given that the ANC is not a court of law and it not in a position to prejudge any judicial process that is either unfolding or may unfold,” ANC provincial secretary Jacob Khawe said.

The ANC lost the powerful metros Johannesburg and Tshwane during the local government elections in 2016. Voters blamed the ANC’s failure to deal with corruption involving its leaders as one of the reasons why they did not vote for the party.

Khawe said the principal responsibility of the PEC remained at all times to protect the image of the organisation and to restore the public confidence in the ANC.

This came shortly after Hlongwa announced that he had requested the ANC to relieve him from the position and duties of the chief whip in the legislature at a date to be determined by the party in the province.

“This decision has been informed by the need to resolve the accusations [which had been making headlines for eight years], without having the matter aired in the courts of the country. Furthermore, the African National Congress is committed to natural justice and my continued stay as the chief whip in the [Gauteng provincial legislature] would have distracted the movement from its task of mobilising our people behind a programme to unite, renew and create jobs. I am deeply honoured to have served and led the ANC caucus in the Gauteng legislature,” Hlongwa said in a statement.

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