Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has told The Sowetan in an exclusive interview that the allegations about her having multiple young lovers “hurts her” but she will continue to “serve the people of South Africa.”
“It does hurt. I’m human, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, I’m somebody else’s child,” she was quoted as saying.
However, a younger man that the minister (who is also a grandmother) allegedly spends a lot of time with has been accused of facilitating a near-R1 billion deal in return for kickbacks. Questions have also been raised about whether she and the man, a legal practitioner, are romantically involved.
Earlier this month EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted a picture of Luvo Makasi, writing that he was “running the water affairs in this country, if you want to be paid or tender his the man 2 speak 2 otherwise u won’t succeed”.
Luvo Makasi is running the water affairs in this country, if you want to be paid or tender his the man 2 speak 2 otherwise u won’t succeed pic.twitter.com/L9yrx5qDp7
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) February 6, 2017
On Sunday morning, City Press reported that the 32-year-old Makasi “orders” Mokonyane’s staff around and even attends senior management meetings, going as far as to give orders to her director-general.
The water affairs department has been facing serious hurdles and City Press reported last week that it is approaching bankruptcy, which it has subsequently denied. City Press reported that her department was more than R4.3 billion in debt and unable to complete crucial projects or pay contractors.
The department counters that it still has enough money to get it to the end of the financial year.
City Press claimed Makasi has involved himself in everything from water affairs tenders to giving legal opinions to the department through his law firm, Boqwana Burns.
According to one official City Press spoke to, “Luvo” and “Mama” Mokonyane were “very close” and were allegedly always together. Malema said in a press conference last year that “Nomvula likes them young”. Mokonyane’s response was that she would “not respond to Malema’s stupidity”.
“They travelled together to Iran and New York,” City Press quotes the source as saying.
A “Mokonyane associate” told the paper it was “shocking” that Makasi could treat the most senior officials in the department as his juniors.”
The department’s spokesperson said the minister had a “political and professional” relationship with Makasi, but he was not an employee of the department.
A whistle-blower’s letter distributed last week on Twitter by Malema alleges Makasi received more than R35 million in kickbacks from a R950 million IT system he allegedly facilited, but “which the department does not need” and which several senior officials advised against.
Makasi reportedly did not respond in time to a list of questions sent to him.
The department’s spokesperson has insisted the IT system cost R450 million, not R950 million, and maintained that they really did need it.
Makasi is also not the only young lover Mokonyane has been linked with. Other names that have emerged are ANC Youth League treasurer Reggie Nkabinde and former soccer player turned businessman Jimmy Tau.
The DA announced it would request the auditor-general to investigate Mokonyane’s alleged gross mismanagement of funds.
‘I’m happily married’
She has now hit back, saying she is being personally attacked because she can’t be brought down politically.
“I know that for you to get at a woman you must throw something about sleeping, I don’t know how many he [Julius Malema] has said I slept with, the list is long. But it’s okay…”
She said even President Jacob Zuma was being insulted, so she would shoulder some of that too.
She denied that she was experiencing any marital problems.
She was quoted as saying that, at home, “Once I go in there, I take off my shoes and I become Nomvula the wife and a friend. He [her husband] smokes his cigar, he watches his golf, I watch my own movies and we have our grandchildren.
“We’re a happy family, not what people are talking about.”