Remove Hlongwa to prove anti-graft stance – Gauteng opposition

Former Gauteng health MEC and current ANC Chief Whip in the Gauteng Legislature, Brian Hlongwa.

Former Gauteng health MEC and current ANC Chief Whip in the Gauteng Legislature, Brian Hlongwa.

The parties say this is an opportune moment for the ANC to sack its chief whip after he was implicated in graft, instead of shielding him.

Opposition parties in Gauteng have demanded that the ANC and Premier David Makhura put their money where their mouths are on corruption by removing ANC chief whip Brian Hlongwa.

The opposition parties in the province have joined forces to pursue a motion that they submitted to the Provincial Legislature to have Hlongwa removed as chief whip of the ruling party and ANC MPL following a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) probe that implicated the politician in corruption amounting to R1.2 billion.

The SIU investigated corruption in the Gauteng health department during the Hlongwa tenure as MEC for health. Hlongwa and some of his health department officials allegedly received kickbacks from companies, including various trips funded by 3P Consulting firm, between 2006 to 2009.

According to the SIU report, “evidence was obtained of Hlongwa declaring the trips or paying/ reimbursing 3P Consulting for these trips,” read a part of the report.

But Hlongwa denied any wrongdoing, saying the allegations and media reports against him on this were not new.

Following the SIU report and opposition pressure, the ANC in the province has blamed the delay on both its integrity committee and the SIU.

The party asked the committee to conclude the matter it claimed had been before the committee and a subject of enquiry by law enforcement agencies for more than seven years.

It is not clear why this issue had been delayed for so long but the committee is expected to meet next month to deliberate the matter.

ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Hope Papo said the ANC provincial working committee was concerned about the long delay.

“The ANC is of the view that the dragging on of this case for this long undermines the democratic state fight against corruption and violates the right to speedy justice. We call on the criminal justice system to expedite the matter and bring closure on it,” Papo said.

The opposition said the report would present an opportunity for the ANC in the province and Makhura, who is the ANC’s acting chairperson, to put their money where their mouths are in eradicating corruption by acting against Hlongwa.

According to DA shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom, former President Jacob Zuma had kept the report under lock and key in an attempt to negate damage to the ANC brand and to protect Hlongwa. He said since the report was released to Section 27 NGO, the ANC had remained silent on the matter and shied away from scrutiny.

The opposition motion was tabled in the legislature on Thursday. Bloom said the tabling afforded the ANC the opportunity to take a firm stance against the rot within its ranks.

“This was an opportune moment for Premier David Makhura to live up to his word of taking a tough stance against corruption. However, as to be expected, the Gauteng ANC has shielded Hlongwa from scrutiny and has, in turn, endorsed the looting of public funds by members of its organisation,” Bloom said.

“Just like former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was allowed to slip off the hook, it is evident that the ANC are going to afford Hlongwa the same treatment.”

ALSO READ: DA launches ‘Hlongwa monitor’ over alleged corruption

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