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THE EMBATTLED Gauteng Local Government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi was booed and heckled in Khutsong for claiming that Merafong was one of the leading municipalities in the province.
Anger was sparked yesterday when Mmemezi, speaking at the office of the Public Protector’s Youth Month commemoration event, said Merafong was “one of the municipalities in Gauteng making us proud”.
“We know as Gauteng that many residents here are offered basic services like water, refuse removal and electricity,” he elaborated.
This caused a large part of the crowd to stand up and start screaming at and booing, making it difficult for the MEC to continue talking. He also was booed when he was introduced and took to the podium earlier.
It was only after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela stepped in that Mmemezi got another chance to speak.
Mmemezi, who is the Gauteng ANC’s deputy secretary, was seen to have influenced Merafong Mayor Maphefo Letsie to be elected a mayoral candidate. Letsie’s detractors allege she quickly shot up the political ranks because she was “close” to Mmemezi.
The MEC – who himself is embroiled in allegations of abusing his government-issued credit card on shopping sprees and hotel stays – listened to Madonsela talk tough against fraud and corruption in government.
Madonsela told the youth that corruption was robbing them of good opportunities.
“Corruption takes away opportunities for improving our lives and this is when we inflate tenders and deliver shoddy work which costs the government a lot more to fix. Corruption pushes away genuine young business people.”
Madonsela told the packed Khutsong Community Hall that a concern had been brought to her office’s attention that businesses in Merafong were overlooking local people in terms of employment, making special reference to mines.
She further cited other known community concerns – from high employment rate to unfair issuing of government contracts.
“I can only conclude that this community has not yet experienced good quality of life promised by our constitution.
“Now what do you do as youth to make sure ensure good governance?,” the public protector asked. “Do you throw stones like the youth of 1976 and destroy infrastructure?
“You are not a stone-age generation but an information generation and you can use that to make sure that the government operates with integrity without fraud and corruption.”
She further urged the youth to refrain from going on violent protests during which property was damaged and take advantage of institutions like her office in an attempt to get their grievances addressed.
The community was given a chance to raise issues with Madonsela and other officials which led to a heated session.
Madonsela promised to come back to Khutsong and asked people to contact her office. Some were able to lodge their complaints on site yesterday.