During election season there is a temptation for parties to try tailor service delivery to win favour.
Now, in a newly emerged audio recording, Gauteng’s ANC MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation, Faith Mazibuko, can be heard pressuring staff to deliver sporting facilities ahead of elections, with seemingly little regard for tender processes and legal prescripts.
In the recording a furious-sounding Mazibuko demands that planned “combi courts” (used for a combination of sporting activities) be rolled out before elections because, she says, referring to one such facility, “we want to use it to campaign and win elections”.
Her anger is sparked when her staff point out that there might be a rollover on the combi courts to the next financial year. One staffer says in the recording that the department has explored ways of expediting the combi courts but that due process may delay implementation.
“We’ve looked at this issue up, down, around, through and over,” says the staffer, who then points out that there is no valid contract in place with the implementing agent and that they cannot find a legal mechanism to roll them out.
However an irate Mazibuko will have none of it and refuses to listen to her staff’s words of caution. “I want those combi courts! How you do that, if it means you go and construct them with your hands, you better do it! No rollover of that money of combi courts!”
Listen to Micah Reddy discuss this story with Cape Talk’s Lester Kiewit here.
When the staffer attempts to lay out the procurement process, she is abruptly cut off by the MEC, who yells, “It doesn’t matter! I don’t want stories, I want combi courts.”
The MEC’s office said in response to questions: “The meeting referred to in your enquiry was a confidential meeting between the MEC and Executive staff members of the department of which the MEC respects confidentiality thereof.”
Her office appeared to deny that any undue pressure was brought to bear on staff.
“At no stage in any meeting with her staff did the MEC give unlawful instructions except to stress the importance of meeting targets and fulfilling promises made to communities as part of service delivery and improving the lives of the people of Gauteng.”
After threatening to force senior staffers to resign, the MEC’s tirade then becomes racially charged as she chastises two senior staffers – an Indian woman and a white woman – for speaking back at her.
“That’s why some departments, they don’t want to see a white woman or any Indian woman! It’s not about racism, it’s because you like talking English!”
Elections are costly, and as parties scramble for resources there’s added incentive for corruption and tender rigging to fund party political campaigns. All the more so in the absence of laws ensuring funding transparency. (The new party funding law is not likely to come into effect before elections in May.)
- If you have any information on illicit party funding or election-related corruption we would like to hear from you.