Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. Picture : Simone Kley

Johannesburg - The Gauteng ANC’s decision to elect controversial former health MECs Brian Hlongwa and Qedani Mahlangu to be part of its provincial executive committee (PEC) could cost the party.

The province has been facing backlash following its elective conference held at the weekend which saw the election of new leaders. 

Mahlangu and Hlongwa's addition to the PEC has raised an uproar from members of society and political parties. 

Mahlangu resigned as a health MEC last year following the release of a report that found that 144 mentally ill patients had died following their removal from Life Esidimeni to unsilenced NGOs.

While Hlongwa was recently implicated in a scathing report by the Special Investigative Unit that uncovered corrupt and fraudulent dealings worth R1.2 billion while he was MEC of health in Gauteng.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the outrage around the two was warranted and their inclusion into the PEC signals a blow to the ANC's message of fighting corruption. 

"The outrage is warranted because electing those people into the PEC can come across as very insensitive on the part of the ANC towards corruption and actually borders on being offensive to those who stand against corruption in the country," said Mathekga. 

Mathekga said what was more worrying was that ANC members saw nothing wrong with electing Hlongwa and Mahlangu and that they had confidence they could lead the party. 

"At the centre of this thing is that members of the ANC believe that those people need to lead the party. It's not about procedure it is about how members of the ANC feel. This is members of the ANC saying that they believe Brian Hlongwa and Qedani Mahlangu still have a lot to offer in terms of leadership." 

The province made a mistake in not speedily dealing with the controversy surrounding the former MECs as this was dominating views ahead of next year’s crucial elections, said Mathekga. 

"Gauteng ANC is under pressure going into this election. They could have been dealing with other issues they are now having to deal with the issues around Mahlangu and Hlongwa.  

“They have lost an opportunity to launch a leadership that could take them on a road towards the 2019 elections. They picked a very unnecessary fight by allowing those people to be elected and they have sent a wrong message to society," he said.  

DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom said he was doubtful that ANC would deal with Hlongwa and Mahlangu through its integrity committee. 

"The re-election of scandal-plagued Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa as members of the Gauteng ANC’s provincial executive committee shows the moral bankruptcy of a party that protects its own at the expense of everyone else."

"It is a poor excuse for Premier David Makhura to say that the ANC’s toothless integrity committee will deal with Mahlangu and Hlongwa. This committee was supposed to take a decision on Hlongwa four years ago and has not censured Mahlangu more than 18 months after the Esidimeni disaster.," said Bloom.

The families of those affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy also reacted with shock to the news of Mahlangu be elected to the PEC, they said they will not rest until she is removed.