Corruption Watch, Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 welcome the resignation of Brian Hlongwa from his post as Chief Whip of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. This is after a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation that commenced in 2010 as well as other legal processes to hold accountable those responsible for the plundering of the Gauteng Department of Health of an estimated R1.2-billion in the period between 2006 to 2009. We stress that a public official with such serious allegations hanging over him should not hold high office. We urge the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Anti-Corruption Task Team and the South African Police Service to conclude their proceedings against Hlongwa. In addition, the proceedings must also be concluded against other former department officials, and private actors such as the directors of 3P Consulting and other companies, which the SIU found to have benefited illegally at the expense of public sector healthcare users. We note that the Gauteng health system is still in crisis. Patients’ needs are growing yet critical posts are still frozen; community health workers are unpaid; billions of rands are owed to critical institutions like the National Health Laboratory Service and the National Blood Service, threatening their viability as a direct result of the years under the leadership of Hlongwa and Qedani Mahlangu. We are also extremely concerned by the rejection by the ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the recommendations of the Provincial Integrity Committee in relation to Hlongwa and Mahlangu’s membership in the ANC and its structures (including the PEC itself). This stance by the PEC stems from its assertion that a disciplinary committee is the only body empowered to take a decision about membership of the PEC. We call for the speedy resolution of this matter at the disciplinary committee. As it stands, this means that the decision of the PEC has no real impact – Mahlangu resigned in February 2017 and Hlongwa resigned on 30 October 2018. This failure to act has the consequence of protecting Hlongwa and Mahlangu, and entrenching impunity and lack of political will to deal decisively with corruption and mismanagement within their ranks. Membership of the PEC provides access to a decision making body with major influence on government policy and the allocation of critical resources. As such, PECs themselves should be beyond reproach. The continued protection of Mahlangu undermines the restorative Life Esidimeni Arbitration and sullies the memories of mental health care users who died and those who survived torture and neglect following their transfer from Life Esidimeni at the instruction of Mahlangu. We call on the ANC National Executive Committee to overturn the PEC’s decision, expel the two and prevent them from holding party or public office. In the interests of transparency, we also call upon the PEC to publish the report of the Provincial Integrity Committee. The civil society organisations also urge the NPA to expedite the prosecution of Qedani Mahlangu and other public officials implicated in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Anele Yawa (Treatment Action Campaign – Secretary General): 064 850 6521 or anele.yawa@mail.tac.org.za Patience Mkosana (Corruption Watch – Communications & Marketing Manager): 072 992 8380 or patiencem@corruptionwatch.org.za Ngqabutho Mpofu (SECTION27 – Senior Communications Officer): 061 807 6443 or mpofu@section27.org.za