BALDWIN NDABA and SHAIN GERMANER
GAUTENG Local Government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi has refused to provide Independent Newspapers with proof that he paid for the personal purchases made with his official credit card.
Yesterday, Independent Newspapers contacted Mmemezi for detailed proof of payment to his credit card since he took office in November 2010.
Instead of answering questions, Mmemezi accused Independent Newspapers of being “after his blood” before ending the call.
In a series of articles since May this year, Independent Newspapers has revealed how Mmemezi used his state-issued credit card to buy groceries in Krugersdorp and other parts of the country including in Flagstaff – near his birthplace of Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
He used the same credit card to buy a painting worth R10 000 through a McDonald’s restaurant in Pretoria in October last year.
He also used it to make overnight bookings at hotels and lodges around Joburg – including one that was less than 5km from his home.
While Mmemezi refused to talk to Independent Newspapers, in a fiery radio interview yesterday he denied the allegations against him.
There were seven denials, a threat to sue for defamation, and unanswered questions as Mmemezi slammed his detractors during an interview on Talk Radio 702.
The latest accusation against him is that he approved an unwarranted car allowance for his daughter and five other Mogale City council employees, ordering that his child’s be backdated for four years.
Mmemezi’s strong denials came after his repeated failure to respond to questions from Independent Newspapers in the past few weeks.
l Denial 1: Mmemezi denied that he was about to be fired, claiming he had met Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and had filed numerous reports regarding his alleged financial mismanagement and nepotism with the integrity commissioner.
lDenial 2: Mmemezi said his personal assets had not been audited since the release of reports claiming he had used his state-issued credit card for personal purchases. His department had been audited, he said, claiming that this was typical for these kinds of allegations.
l Denial 3: He said he did not misuse his government credit card. Officials on his level were, according to the ministerial handbook, entitled to make personal purchases as long as they paid the money back, he said. One such example was the painting he reportedly bought from McDonald’s for R10 000. Despite a monthly allowance of R50 000, he had only spent R150 000 of his department’s budget in the past 18 months, he said.
lDenial4: Mmemezi said he had not failed to submit an accident report after a recent car crash in his state-issued vehicle, denying again that the department had been forced to pay for repairs owing to insurance issues. Mmemezi said he had filed the report “within 30 minutes of the crash”, and that the driver of the other vehicle had fled the scene because “he was drunk”.
lDenial5: Mmemezi said he had not received any questions about the allegations against him from Independent Newspapers. He said reports had been published without his having been given the chance to respond. “I am one MEC not to dodge questions,” he said.
l Denial6: Mmemezi rejected claims that he had hired his niece as a secretary in his department, and taken her on overseas trips.
l Denial 7: Mmemezi said he was not responsible for approving and backdating an unwarranted car allowance for his daughter. He denied financial mismanagement and said that at that stage he did not have the authority to approve the allowance alone. He did not clarify, however, if he was responsible for the four years of back payments.