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The ANC in Gauteng gave Local Government and Housing Humphrey Mmemezi a choice: resign or face the wrath of the premier.
Mmemezi quit in the face of mounting evidence and reports from within his own party of his unsuitability to be an MEC - the embarrassing reports in The Star on his government credit card spending spree notwithstanding.
The instruction to resign came after the party’s integrity committee, under chairman Baba Alexander Mbatha, found the MEC guilty of abusing his state-issued credit card and tarnishing the image of the ANC in Gauteng.
Mbatha – a senior ANC Veterans’ League provincial chairman – in his report to Mashatile, found no evidence to exonerate Mmemezi and save his political career.
The ANC was also aware that the Gauteng provincial legislature’s integrity commissioner, Dr Ralph Mgijima, has drafted a damning report against Mmemezi.
It found that he had conducted himself improperly while holding public office. The ANC was also aware that Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s own investigation recommended his expulsion for bringing her office into disrepute.
So, the ANC told him to resign before Mgijima presents his damning report to the legislature on Friday. The deal was made at the ANC provincial headquarters, Walter Sisulu House, on Tuesday.
Mmemezi announced his resignation on Wednesday to avoid further embarrassment. In return, he keeps his seat in the legislature.
Mokonyane accepted the resignation and said Infrastructure MEC Bheki Nkosi could act in his place. But The Star understands that the integrity commissioner’s and premier’s investigations found that Mmemezi was not fit to hold public office.
In his resignation letter, Mmemezi acknowledged some misconduct, but denied other allegations, like the abuse of a state vehicle.
Some of the matters he admitted, he had previously denied to The Star.
“There are, however, decisions that I deeply regret with regard to some of the personal purchases I made using the departmental credit card,” he said.
“From the briefing I received from officials in my department on the use of the corporate credit card, and the ambiguity of the Ministerial Handbook, I got the impression that I could use the credit card for both official and personal purchases, as long as I could repay the department where there are personal expenses.
“It is for this reason that I deeply regret that I used the credit to pay for the suits in India, the groceries in the local grocery store and the artwork in the office.”
He apologised and said he had “fully refunded” the government “long before” the matter became public.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I should have exercised more caution and prudence in matters of the use of the departmental corporate credit card,” Mmemezi said. But Mmemezi has still not provided The Star with proof of his repayment.
The Star has seen documents showing that electronic payments were made from the account of the Department of Economic Development to his credit card after the September overspending.
Mmemezi vowed to sue The Star over the stories implicating him in corruption.
“Over the past few months, a series of allegations were levelled against me in the media pertaining to the improper use of the state official vehicle and departmental corporate credit card as well as my previous work in Mogale City local municipality.
“Some of these allegations, which are patently false, have clearly been intended to damage my public standing and that of my organisation and government.
“For instance, the allegation that I didn’t report the car accident remains false.
“Some of the expenditure items published as costs incurred by me, such as the trip to London, is also false.
“All the allegations about my work in Mogale City are also blatantly untrue. Quite clearly, I intend to take legal steps on malicious untruths that have been published in the media about me,” Mmemezi vowed.