Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane's office refused to comment on Monday on a report that she would have dismissed housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had she not been overseas.
The Star newspaper reported that Mmemezi was to have been fired before the end of the month and that Mokonyane wanted to be in the country when it happened.
“That decision is for the premier to make. I cannot respond to speculation. The decision on MEC Mmemezi is the premier's decision. I am not in a position to firm up what The Star has reported,” Mokonyane's spokesman Xoli Mngambi said.
The premier reportedly had the full support of Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile and the party's provincial secretary David Makhura, who is Mmemezi's deputy.
Mokonyane was leaving for China on Monday. Mngambi at first said he could not reveal her return date as he was “not allowed to give out that kind of information”. Then he said he did not know when she was returning as he was driving. He would try to find out whether he was allowed to publicise the date.
The DA in Gauteng said: “We hope that this report is true, as his firing is long overdue.
“The premier should fire him from China,” DA Gauteng caucus leader Jack Bloom said.
“Mmemezi represents everything wrong with the ANC's policy of cadre deployment where incompetents are placed in office and retained even as scandal rages around them,” he said.
Mmemezi recently made headlines for his alleged misuse of government funds, including a claim that he used his department-issued credit card to buy a R10 000 painting from a fast-food restaurant in Pretoria.
West Rand teenager Thomas Ferreira was seriously injured when he was hit by a VIP vehicle linked to Mmemezi in November 2011. The matter is currently in court.
Dumisa Ntuli, the spokesman for the ANC in Gauteng was not immediately available for comment. – Sapa