Johannesburg - The death knell appears to have sounded for Gauteng ANC chief whip and former health MEC Brian Hlongwa’s ambitions to become the party’s provincial secretary, following allegations of corruption levelled against him.
Hlongwa is set to appear before the Gauteng ANC’s integrity committee after allegations surfaced that the Hawks were investigating him for corruption related to R1.4-billion worth of contracts awarded during his tenure as health MEC.
This is the same committee that ended the provincial career of former local government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi, who was forced to resign after being accused of abusing state funds.
Hlongwa, believed to have been lobbying strongly to be elected provincial secretary at the party’s provincial conference to be held next month, apparently does not feature among those mooted by provincial chairman Paul Mashatile. A source close to the lobbying for Mashatile’s re-election as party chairman said this week Hlongwa’s campaign was “stillborn”.
Former health MEC and provincial executive committee member Hope Papo is being mooted for possible election as the provincial secretary. According to the source, Hlongwa’s prospects to become provincial secretary were already doomed before the corruption allegations surfaced.
“It is tempting for people to think he is being sabotaged to prevent him being elected, but the truth is that he would not have made it anyway.
“His campaign never really took off. You know there is something wrong when a leader cannot even rely on his own region’s support. Hlongwa is not from the West Rand,” said the source.
It is believed Mashatile will run for re-election with former provincial secretary David Makhura as his deputy, while former deputy chairwoman Dr Gwen Ramokgopa will run as deputy secretary on the same slate. The Speaker of the Gauteng legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, is expected to run for the position of provincial treasurer.
It is understood the faction opposed to Mashatile’s bid is without a candidate to run against him, with attempts to have Makhura opposing him appearing to fade.
Hlongwa refused to comment on his bid for the position of provincial secretary.
“I have said that I cannot comment on internal party processes. Those will run their course. I have absolutely no influence on those issues,” he said on Friday.
Several sources have told The Sunday Independent that the allegations of corruption against Hlongwa have divided the ANC in the province, with some saying he should account for what happened, while others were sympathetic to him.
A source who did not want to be identified said Hlongwa’s supporters felt that the allegations of corruption against him were politically motivated. “Other people in the branches feel that this is a ploy to prevent Hlongwa from standing as the provincial secretary in the congress next month,” he said.
He added that Hlongwa’s supporters believed that he was being targeted because he was too independent and did not take instructions from anyone.
Another source from Ekurhuleni who wanted to remain anonymous denied that some of the branches had been trying to convince Makhura to challenge Mashatile.
She said: “It’s an open secret almost all the branches want comrade Paul to become the chairperson and Makhura to be his deputy. There is no other person that can challenge Paul and win.”