NEWS

Five Times Nomvula Mokonyane Made Headlines For The Wrong Reasons

Remember the time Nomvula Mokonyane used to be called Mama Action? Yeah, neither do we.

20/02/2017 17:40 SAST | Updated 20/02/2017 20:40 SAST
Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane attend the South African Local Government Association national conference on September 10, 2012 in Midrand, South Africa.

Remember the time Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane used to be called Mama Action? Yeah, neither do we. It's been so many years of Mokonyane's blatant disregard for voters and the public that it's difficult to remember a time when she wasn't like this. But back in 2009, Mokonyane was sworn in as the first female premier of Gauteng and she had a reputation for a "no-nonsense stance towards service delivery and hardline approach against corruption", City Press's Sipho Masondo wrote recently.

But things have gone rapidly south for the politician, and City Press has been at the forefront of reporting the decline. Here are all the times she's been in the news for the wrong reasons.

1. A heartless politician saying dirty things
In incredibly foolish moment Mokonyane made a remark that would go on to haunt her. Addressing the Bekkersdal community, who were in the thick of violently protesting against poor service delivery, Mokonyane made a comment that would go down in South African history as one of the most thoughtless made by a politician in democratic South Africa. She said: "People can threaten us and say they won't vote but the ANC doesn't need their dirty votes." It was the height of arrogance.

2. A collapsing department
Despite reports that she kept a tight rein on MECs when she was Gauteng premier, Mokonyane has all but lost that sense of control if the numbers in her national department are anything to go by. Her department is R4.3 billion in the red, leaving hundreds of contractors unpaid for at least seven months, City Press reported earlier this month. It is so bad there are talks of placing the department under administration, as "internal controls, project management and contract management have collapsed". Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has held crisis talks with Mokonyane. Which may explain why...

3. Mokonyane is leading the charge against Pravin Gordhan
Mokonyane has been at the forefront of a movement by politicians aligned to President Jacob Zuma in criticising the National Treasury under Gordhan. The Treasury under Gordhan and his predecessor Nhlanhla Nene have frustrated President Jacob Zuma's plans around big projects like nuclear, and are thought by their supporters to be the last bulwark against wide-scale looting. Mokonyane called for Treasury's wings to be clipped so that everyone could share the "cake", in the Sunday Times earlier this month.

4. The young man she allows to run her department
The minister apparently has allowed a young man, who she is alleged to be in a relationship with, call the shots within her department despite not working there, according to a report in City Press on Sunday. Luvo Makasi, a director of a Cape Town law firm and recently appointed chairperson of the Central Energy Fund, apparently gives orders to the most senior staff in the department including the director-general and chief financial officer. Contractor have reportedly been advised to talk to Makasi if they hope to be successful in their contracts.

5. What's a few zeroes between friends? Ballooning project costs
Her department is facing investigations by both Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), thanks to, you guessed it, City Press investigations. Mkhwebane will investigate the R26 billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project while the SIU and Mkhwebane are investigating tender and other irregularities in the controversial Giyani Emergency Project, which has seen costs balloon from R500 million to more than R5 billion, according to City Press.