Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing Humphrey Mmemezi deserves the Mampara of the Year Award for his obtuse comments when trying to defend his alleged malfeasance at a media conference this week.

Maybe he could also scoop the Bheki Cele Foot in Mouth Trophy. Some politicians should interact with the media only through their official spokesperson.

Whenever I think of Mmemezi lately, I am reminded of the very apt historical quote when Oliver Cromwell ejected King Charles from the English parliament: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

It is a pity that the assembled press corps let his inane excuses go largely unchallenged. The unrepentant MEC launched a hysterical tirade against unnamed conspirators who he said were intent on besmirching his name because he was set to expose their own criminal activities.

Of course the alleged sinister conspirators will surely forever remain anonymous because that is usually the mark of a guilty person trying to deflect blame for their own indiscretions.

Mmemezi, who has spent the last while concentrating on how to unearth the whistle-blower who exposed his credit card profligacy, instead of being candid with the public, broke his silence and said the R10 000 painting which was purchased under mysterious circumstances with a credit card at a McDonald’s fast food franchise was in fact not for his personal use, but was acquired for display in his office, and that he had nothing to do with it because it was handled entirely by his office staff.

If I was in the press complement he addressed, I would have asked

Mmemezi the following:

l Why were his staff allowed to use his government credit card to effect the purchase?

l Did the purchase of the painting comply with Gauteng legislature procurement procedures and budget parameters?

l Is that painting now hanging in his office registered as property of the legislature or in his own name, and when he leaves office, will it remain there?

l Can he elaborate on the other allegations of credit card improprieties, that about R100 000 was spent on that same credit card on items that looked suspiciously like items for personal use?

l As he is in such a rare frank mood, can he give us some enlightenment concerning the car accident in his official vehicle that left a young motorcyclist brain-damaged? Most importantly, what was the destination of his trip on that fateful Sunday which necessitated a blue-light vehicle speeding and running a red traffic light?

l What is the current status of the police investigation as to whether his driver and possibly himself will face criminal charges?

In our troubled country, reeling under rising public and private sector corruption, these are the questions worried citizens would like answered.

It is not so much the scale of the corrupt activities in the government arena that creates alarm, but that there never seems to be any accountability or adequate consequences for gross wrongdoing.

Nothing illustrates the lack of accountability more than the silence of Mmemezi’s ANC superiors in the wake of some pretty serious allegations of impropriety. Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile have both been conspicuous by their reticence to act on the Mmemezi debacle.

Jean LePalisseur

Killarney, Joburg