Gauteng ANC not embarrassed by Hlongwa corruption

by Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Legislature during the DA/EFF motion debate on ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa’s fitness to hold office.

Madam Speaker,

This is a very important motion which will show whether the governing party is really serious about fighting corruption.

Honourable Member Brian Hlongwa has said that the SIU report is nothing new and is a ploy “to embarrass the Gauteng ANC”.

He is right that the details in the SIU report are not new.

It has indeed been regularly aired in this Legislature, and just as regularly elicited an angry response from member Hlongwa who insists he is innocent and needs to have his day in court.

Let me outline just a little bit of what is not new.

I refer to court documents lodged in the Johannesburg High Court in July 2014 which applied for an asset forfeiture order for Member Hlongwa’s House in Bryanston, Johannesburg which he bought for R7.2 million.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA): “At no time did Mr Hlongwa declare to the Gauteng Legislature the holiday to Cuba, payments towards his new house at Eccleston Crescent, various home renovations, rent-free accommodation, cash, spa treatments or other benefits received from Mr Payne, Mr Smidek, Mr Pillay or their various entities.”

And furthermore, he “did not declare these benefits because he was well aware they were not innocently given or received, involved contractors to the GDoH and would attract attention.”

The undeclared benefits allegedly include the following:

  • 5 million paid to Brisgo Properties, a company 100% owned by Hlongwa and his wife, to pay towards purchase of the Bryanston house.
  • A further R2.6 million paid by Richard Payne of 3P and Niven Pillay of Regiments Capital towards the Eccleston house.
  • The purchase for R4.75 million of Hlongwa’s previous house at College Drive in Bryanston by Kemsing Services (Pty) Ltd, a Cyprus-registered company. It is alleged that this is “a gratification as defined in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.”
  • Payment for renovations to the Eccleston Crescent house amounting to R1 444 382.89 from Pillay, Samuel and entities associated with Payne and Pillay.
  • Trip to the Durban July Handicap for him and his wife in 2008, including two nights at the Beverley Hills Hotel, paid for by Regiments, which is a Gupta-linked company
  • Spa treatment for Hlongwa and his wife, complete with limousine transport, on 30 July 2009, paid for by 3P, the value being approximately R8381.

All of the above should have been declared in the Register of Members Interests, but it wasn’t.

I disagree with the notion that we have to wait until this is proven in court, as this means unreasonable delay.

Failure to declare just one of these benefits would be grounds for extreme censure.

But most of all, there is the scale of the corruption that occurred at the Gauteng Health Department when Member Hlongwa was the MEC for Health.

The appointment of 3P gave rise to a state capture of more than R1.2 billion that should have gone to the care of patients.

The ANC in Gauteng has claimed that it was opposed to the obvious state capture under Jacob Zuma, but here is a glaring example for which there has been no real accountability.

I remember asking in this House how a 3P employee could be the Acting Chief Director of Finance.

It was a period of brazen irregularity and theft presided over the Member who declares unconvincingly that he did no wrong.

There is a direct line from the breakdown of systems when he was Health MEC to the health crisis that we face today.

And people have died because of this.

Member Hlongwa should have resigned in shame from all political positions forever, and his party should have insisted on this as well.

But a comrade is always a comrade, so he remains in a senior political position.

The ANC in Gauteng pretends that it has an Integrity Committee.

This is the same Integrity Committee that has yet to censure another former Health MEC for the Life Esidimeni disaster.It has also failed to take any action against Member Hlongwa.

It is only because of convention in this House that he can be called an Honourable Member because he really has no honour, and neither does the party that protects him.

You should understand that when I use the title Honourable in reference to him in this House, it is with a great deal of cynicism and irony.

I disagree with Honorable Hlongwa that the ANC can be embarrassed about anything.

They have not been embarrassed to have him as Chief Whip despite all the court documents and the asset forfeiture application on his House as a proceed of crime.

They will not be embarrassed in voting against this motion.

What happened to the proposal made by Premier David Makhura at the ANC’s 2012 Policy Conference proposal that all deployed ANC members in government step down immediately when accused of misconduct or incompetence?He was quoted then as saying that stepping aside doesn’t mean a person is guilty, but the idea is that no-one will be able to “hide behind” the argument that they are innocent until proven guilty, and thereby worsen the “troubled image” of the party.

The ANC now has the opportunity to show that it really does care about fighting corruption.

If they vote against this motion, it will show once again that they only protect themselves and have no moral authority.

It remains for me to note that according to the “Hlongwa Monitor” it is now SEVEN DAYS since the release of the SIU report and he has not been fired.

How many more days before he goes?