Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo gives an update on the burnt-out Department of Housing and Health building, saying employees will be moved to another building. Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
THE ANC Alliance partners in Gauteng have rebuffed calls for the resignations of two provincial cabinet members after a fire broke out at a government building and claimed the lives of three firefighters.

Yesterday, Cosatu secretary Dumisani Dakile said the DA’s calls for the resignations of Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa and Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo were premature, despite both of them knowing that the building was not safe for occupation.

DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom had earlier said Premier David Makhura should fire them after Mamabolo had admitted that he had been made aware a few months ago that the building “was a health hazard”.

The DA has also indicated that they were exploring the possibility of bringing culpable homicide charges against the provincial government.

The DA’s premier-candidate-elect Solly Msimanga said: “I have asked our legal team to explore if there is criminal culpability on the part of the provincial government and the politicians who allowed this to happen.”

Dakile said he had set up a meeting with Makhura and the two MECs “to go deeper into the service level agreement between the Health Department and the owners of the building.”

He said before his union could make any pronouncement on Ramokgopa’s and Mamabolo’s futures, their immediate focus was to find answers to the continued occupation of the building by three government departments.

“A service level agreement must meet certain specifics. We want to know what those specifics were. Why was the building not maintained? Who was supposed to maintain it?” Dakile said.

According to him, concerns about the building were raised while former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was at the helm.

Dakile said 18 Nehawu shop stewards were placed on suspension for allegedly raising the issue of the safety of the building with her.

“In April this year, I led a march to the department about the same matter. I did not get an acknowledgement or response. Who has been benefiting? We want to go to the core of the issue. We are not dealing with a new phenomenon,” Dakile said.

While Cosatu is trying to ascertain who owns the buildings, the SACP in Gauteng says the Bank of Lisbon is owned by the provincial government. SACP provincial chairman Joe Mpisi also condemned the call for the resignation of Mamabolo, who is the party’s provincial secretary.

“The DA is not worried about the deaths and injuries of firefighters. They are just playing politics. It is their electioneering programme,” Mpisi said.

He said Mamabolo had already indicated that he would take responsibility if investigations pointed to him.

According to Mpisi, seven other buildings, which were also found to be unsuitable for occupation, were privately owned.