ANC’s Letsema vs Hlasela – same misdemeanours, different faces

22 Jul 2022 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Dr Roy Jankielsohn.

The DA has requested that the Public Protector investigate the abuse of state resources for party political purposes by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Free State Premier Sefora Ntombela. (see full complaint here)

As part of the ANC’s Letsema Campaign launch in the Free State on 23 April 2022, a house was handed over to a Bloemfontein Resident. The events on that day were marketed on ANC social media pages and by their national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, as Letsema Campaign launch events (see images here). As a consequence of this, the hand-over of the state sponsored house to a beneficiary was done by President Ramaphosa and Premier Ntombela, among others, in their respective capacities as ANC functionaries and members.

In a reply to a question in the Free State Legislature, the MEC of the Department of Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements, Mr. Mxolisi Dukwana, confirmed that a house was handed over as part of the Letsema Campaign to a beneficiary in Hillside View, Bloemfontein. The property was allocated to her as beneficiary of the Free State Provincial Government and the cost of this was R133 000.

While the DA supports the allocation and transfer of houses to beneficiaries in need, such houses that are sponsored by the state should be transferred to beneficiaries under the auspices of the government and not the governing political party.

This misdemeanour is very similar to the abuse referred to in the PP Report: No 1 of 2016/17 State and Party Colours – Report on an investigation into allegations of maladministration regarding Operation Hlasela and the Hlasela Fund of the Free State Provincial Government and alleged conflation between party and state. In this report, the PP sustained the complaint by the DA that the Ace Magashule-initiated Free State Government Operation Hlasela was done in a manner that amounted to conflation of party and state. Furthermore, it was found that other political parties were prejudiced as a result of this. The PP instructed the Premier to develop and circulate a provincial government policy in all government institutions within the province, setting out clear separation between state resources and party activities at all times, and instructed that all provincial state functionaries and employees be made aware of this policy.

Because the previous PP found that the use of Operation Hlasela during ANC election campaigning was a conflation of party and state, the principle can be conversely applied to the Letsema Campaign launch. The handing over of a state sponsored house to a beneficiary of the Free State Provincial Government’s housing policy under the ANC’s banner as part of the ANC’s Letsema Campaign is also a conflation of party and state and as such also an abuse of state resources for party political purposes.

The President, Premier, and any other officials and politicians present deliberately and blatantly abused state resources to promote the ANC. This is a serious contravention of the Free State government policy regarding separation of party and state, the constitutional code of conduct for national and provincial executives and the civil service, as well as the spirit of the electoral code of conduct.

We have therefore requested that the actions of the President, Free State Premier and other officials and politicians who were part of this be admonished in a similar manner to the Hlasela Report. We have requested that remedial action include the following:

  • The ANC should pay the R133 000 that was the alleged cost of the house into the coffers of Provincial Treasury.
  • A public apology to the people of the Free State by the President, Premier and the ANC as an organisation for abusing their resources for party political campaign purposes.
  • An apology to the beneficiary by the President, Premier and the ANC as an organisation for the embarrassment caused by their abuse of her legitimate housing allocation and her unfortunate personal family circumstances for party political campaigning purposes.
  • A recommendation that the matter be referred to Parliament and the Free State Legislature for appropriate action against those involved regarding their disregard for their respective constitutionally defined codes of conduct.