“Unfortunately what he said has become a political storm and taken out of context making headlines and triggering rigorous debates in social media,” MEC spokesman Jeffrey Zikhali said.
The Star reported on Wednesday that Radebe said those who received social welfare grants but voted for opposition political parties were stealing from government.
“Nxamalala [President Jacob Zuma] has increased grants, but there are people who are stealing them by voting for opposition parties,” he was quoted as saying.
“If you are in the opposition, you are like a person who comes to my house, eats my food and then insults me.”
Radebe, who was previously the province’s social development MEC, warned those who wanted to vote for other parties to “stay away from the grant”.
His comments were made in Greytown on Tuesday in Zuma’s presence.
Zikhali said that Radebe was speaking in vernacular in his delivery.
“It is unfortunate and mischievous that the journalists who were at the venue did not request the MEC to explain what he meant during the event or try to contact his office,” said Zikhali.
According to him, the MEC actually said: “Even if you hate the current government, you will continue to receive government grants, pensions and services because South Africa is a democratic country.”