Johannesburg - Pressure mounted on Thursday on Gauteng Premier David Makhura to fire his MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Faith Mazibuko, following her racist rant that it was only in her department that white and Indian women were occupying senior positions.
Mazibuko's disparaging comments caused a stir on Thursday, a few weeks before the May 8 elections, and led to calls from within and outside the ANC-led tripartite alliance for her to go.
She was recorded in a private meeting with two of her senior officials, yelling that none of the Gauteng provincial departments, including Makhura’s office, have white and Indian women in senior positions.
An angry Mazibuko accused Monica Newton - the head of department - and her colleague of having failed to facilitate the construction of "combi courts", which she wanted to use to help campaign for the ANC in Gauteng.
The country's economic hub is targeted by opposition parties, following the ANC’s poor performance in the 2016 municipal elections.
"Combi courts" - full name combined courts - are multi-purpose sports facilities.
“I want those combi courts, we want to use them to campaign to win elections. There will be no rollover of funds. It will work in this current financial year. We can't be telling communities we will build combi courts and not deliver,” the MEC said.
“It is clear you two are not ready to work in this environment. You better do your work or get out which other department has a white woman as a head of department? None, except a national (government). That is why some departments do not want an Indian or white woman ababafuni (they do not want them); and it's not about racism. This women empowerment I took it too far and now it is backfiring on me. Go do your work.”
On Thursday night, Newton referred enquiries to the departmental communication unit.
Gauteng ANC secretary Jacob Khawe was quick to admit that the MEC's utterances were racist.
“The comments were reckless and unacceptable," he said.
Cosatu and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation joined calls for the expulsion of Mazibuko. Cosatu Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said the outburst was a reflection of the abuse of workers by political leaders.
Mazibuko has since publicly apologised for her rant.
“I humble myself and apologise to Premier (David) Makhura and my colleagues in the provincial cabinet for the harm caused.
"I am willing to subject myself to whatever appropriate sanction to be imposed on me by Premier Makhura and my organisation,” Mazibuko said.
Makhura's spokesperson Castro Ngobese confirmed the premier would meet Mazibuko. He would not be drawn to comment further.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation wanted Mazibuko gone and called on the foundation's board members, Makhura and MEC for Transport Ismail Vadi to consider firing her.
The foundation's executive director, Neeshan Balton, said it was “precisely the type of attitude exhibited by Mazibuko that led to the Life Esidimeni tragedy, where public officials were put under pressure by their political heads, resulting in improper and unethical decision making.”
DA Gauteng premier-elect Solly Msimanga alleged that Mazibuko's conduct was proof that she wanted to use the construction of the combined courts "to win votes at all costs".
EFF provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego said the party would lay criminal charges for corruption against Mazibuko.
“It cannot be that a political principal can abuse and force officials to commit a crime, because it is a crime to use service delivery funds for purposes of elections. We know that this is not an isolated incident. It is happening in other departments,” Mashego said.