Chief Whip feels backlash: Daily Dispatch

Political heat after his love jaunts exposed

THE SACP has instructed its provincial chairman, who is also chief whip of the ruling party in the Bhisho legislature, to reverse the appointment of the mother of his child into a position in his office.

The decision came days after a Saturday Dispatch report that Mzoleli Mrara – the ruling party’s most senior member in the Bhisho legislature – had hired the woman as a researcher. She began work this month. In a list of his beneficiaries, which he voluntarily submitted to the legislature, she is described as a friend who can benefit from his allowance.

Also on the list is Mrara’s daughter, who is 10. The woman is not being named to protect the identity of the child.

Although the woman and Mrara’s daughter share the same surname, Mrara does not appear to have told the legislature of their relationship.

But sources in Bhisho told the Dispatch last week that the woman was Mrara’s girlfriend and the mother of the child on his list of beneficiaries.

The Dispatch report revealed how taxpayers’ funds had been used to pay for the woman, Mrara and their daughter to holiday in Cape Town.

Documents seen by the Dispatch show that Mrara had instructed that the woman and child be flown from Port Elizabeth and booked into a luxury Cape Town waterfront hotel for four nights in December.

The trip, which cost just over R10 000, was paid out of ANC constituency funds.

The SACP has confirmed that Mrara was in Cape Town at the time, but denied he was there on holiday, saying it found nothing wrong with constituency funds being used to pay for flights and hotel rooms for Mrara, his girlfriend and their daughter in the four-star hotel.

According to the SACP Mrara was in Cape Town for a Young Communist League conference as a representative of the SACP.

It did not explain why constituency funds were used for this or why the party did not pay for its delegates. The legislature is yet to respond while Mrara has not responded to messages since Friday.

The ANC has summoned Bhisho’s entire ANC whippery.

“This process (the employment) was not done by him, but was an inclusive process conducted by the ANC whippery,” said ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane.

“We found there was no particular engagement done by him during the recruitment process. In fact he was not even there. He was not part of that process. We are attending to the matter internally and once determinations are done, our recommendations will be communicated.”

Opposition parties this week called for the appointment to be reversed and for Mrara to explain why taxpayers’ funds were used to pay for flights and hotel stays for the mother of his love child. The DA yesterday wrote to ask speaker Noxolo Kiviet to investigate this.

A statement by the SACP yesterday condemned what it called “acts of nepotism in the office of ANC chief whip” and said Mrara would approach the legislature authorities to discuss the appointment, which it described as “unethical”. It “should not have happened” and “went against the communist party’s revolutionary morality”, the statement added.

But the Dispatch understands from sources at the meeting that the party was more direct in dealing with Mrara, even directing him to reverse the appointment.

UDM leader Max Mhlathi yesterday agreed the appointment needed to be reversed.

“Civil servants are watching us as politicians and would start to want to emulate what we do when we employ people close to us,” he said.

DA provincial leader Athol Trollip called on Kiviet to investigate the abuse of constituency funds after the precedent set with an investigation into the financial affairs of the Congress of the People (COPE).

“These allegations imply serious ethical impropriety that is untenable from any MPL,” Trollip said. “Another aspect of this matter that will require close scrutiny is the fact that this alleged abuse of constituency funding has been occurring for a number of years with the knowledge of legislature and party political staff members.”

Provincial SACP spokesperson Siyabonga Mdodi said the allegations had damaged the party’s standing in society.

He said while it believed Mrara was not directly involved in the appointment, “the employment of a person close to him in his office is against our own communist revolutionary morality and is viewed as unethical and should not have happened.”

On allegations of misusing constituency funds, Mdodi said the party found no abuse as all costs were in line with what was permitted for MPLS.

“Tickets used were used for listed beneficiaries, using annual allocated tickets to a member of the provincial legislature,” said Mdodi. —

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