Molebatsi Bopape, the former Gauteng MEC for sports, recreation, arts and culture. File picture: Paballo Thekiso/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg – Former Gauteng MEC for sports, arts and culture, Molebatsi Bopape, who faced a litany of allegations of defying the ANC, has been cleared of all charges.

According to ANC insiders, the decision was taken by the ANC provincial disciplinary committee, following a lengthy hearing which began early this year.

Bopape was charged with refusing to obey an order from the party’s pro- vincial chief whip, Brian Hlongwa, not to express her unhappiness about ANC affairs in public, disobeying an instruction from Gauteng legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe and colluding with opposition parties in the legislature to tarnish the ANC’s image.

Another charge was disseminating a document allegedly containing “false, malicious and libellous allegations”.

In her bid to clear her name, Bopape tried to make a member statement in the legislature but her own party members stopped her. The contents of her dossier were published in The Sunday Independent. Bopape was subsequently suspended and charged. She was acquitted on all charges on May 22.

ANC insiders told The Sunday Independent the ruling party was more scathing about Premier David Makhura, Hlongwa and Mekgwe. They were found to have denied Bopape her basic democratic rights and even violated them. The sources said the provincial disciplinary committee agreed with Bopape that the premier failed to hear her side of the story.

The premier and his co-accusers were also found to have contravened the ANC’s constitution by denying members their basic democratic rights.

The Gauteng ANC was cautioned for having failed to summon Bopape before the provincial executive committee to explain herself. The provincial disciplinary committee, according insiders, was also not presented with evidence that Makhura gave Bopape an opportunity to clear her name. The same ruling was apparently also made against Mekgwe.

Mekgwe, sources say, was warned against taking instruction from poli- tical bosses like Hlongwa because as Speaker of the legislature she was supposed to be impartial. The pro- vincial disciplinary committee expressed dismay that Bopape was not given an opportunity to appear before the integrity commissioner, despite Makhura lodging a formal complaint.

According to the insiders, the provincial disciplinary committee found that Bopape had no option but to deal with the allegations through her dossier because the premier and the ANC provincial executive committee had failed to create a platform for her.

Gauteng ANC spokesperson Motalatale Modiba refused to comment on the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. “The ANC in Gauteng will announce the outcome of Bopape’s hearing after our internal processes are concluded,” he said yesterday.

Bopape’s ordeal began soon after her appointment as MEC in May 2014, when she uncovered more than R800-million worth of tenders issued illegally by officials in her department. The illegal issuing of tenders and bribe allegations formed part of the disciplinary hearing and subsequent firing of former sports head of department Namhla Siqaza earlier this year.

According to that evidence, Siqaza, upon knowing that Bopape reported her to Premier Makhura, approached senior officials of the auditor-general’s office to help them to give their department a clean audit outcome and to also claim that all those tenders that were issued were in accordance with prescribed laws of public procurement of goods.

The auditor-general’s officials, according to evidence before Makhura, refused the bribe and reported the head of department and her co-conspirators to Bopape, who then reported them to the premier.

Prior to being charged, Siqaza and her clique wrote a letter to Makhura in which they accused Bopape of having influenced the award of a R10m security tender to a company owner known to her.

Makhura then decided to lay disciplinary charges against Siqaza and her co-accused. He simultaneously removed Bopape as MEC for sports and moved her to social development on October 23, 2015.

Makhura said he had referred all allegations against Bopape to the legislature’s integrity commissioner, Ralph Mgijima. In February last year, Makhura removed her as MEC.

Bopape could not be reached for comment.

Sunday Independent