Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, has rejected a newspaper report that he convened a secret meeting to discuss departmental tenders.
According to the report, Lesufi can be heard in an audio recording saying “his people” must be empowered in tender-related matters. It is also reported that he suggested that there were “traitors” wanting to report him to the police.
Lesufi says the meeting alluded to was convened by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and concerned citizens, who had invited him to address the community in May 2020 after a school in Soshanguve went for months without electricity.
Learner formations, business forums and Community Police Forum members are also said to have been at the gathering.
Lesufi says on the day he took a walk-about with attendees to demonstrate the urgent need for the required repairs.
Departmental Spokesperson, Steve Mabona, says electricity was restored at the school soon after the meeting.
“Local contractors stopped the project to repair the electricity problem and demanded that they be appointed to carry out some work at the school. At the community meeting, the MEC explained on how contracts were advertised and adjudicated in government. Why would a walk-about be arranged if the meeting was a so-called secret?”
Recording allegedly tempered with
The Gauteng Education Department says the circulating audio recording has been tampered with to mislead the public.
“These are baseless and unfounded. It is unfortunate that the recording was seriously manipulated and tampered with. The manipulated voice clip only contains areas where the MEC was responding to questions that were raised by members of the community. To quote the MEC, he said ‘I am fully aware that there are forces at play who want to assassinate my character for political expediency. I have no control over these faceless elements, but I will not be deterred to continue with my work to ensure quality education for all is realised, ” says Mabona.
He says the intention of the recording is to tarnish Lesufi’s reputation.
“It is the MEC’s view that the sole intention of the voice recording that is being circulated is to both tarnish his reputation and create a perception at the very least, of bias towards specific people and/or their companies. MEC Lesufi rejects this with the contempt it deserves and wants to assure the people and specifically contractors of Gauteng that the GDE runs a fair and transparent process of appointing and allocating work to, contracted service providers.”
EFF calls for Lesufi’s removal
The Economic Freedom Fighters is calling for Lesufi’s head. In a statement, the party says Lesufi thrives in pretending to work for public relations purposes.
“As the EFF, we are not surprised by the pure thuggery of Panyaza Lesufi, who behaves like a cowboy every time there are matter confronting the Basic Education in Gauteng, yet never fundamentally solves anything. Lesufi thrives in pretending to work for public relations purposes, while linking his pockets and allowing private institutions in the sector to be the law upon themselves,” adds the party.
The party says Lesufi’s alleged actions are tantamount to treason. It has also asked for the abolishment of the tender system, saying that it only exists to serve the interests of a few.