'I became angry and I apologise' - Faith Mazibuko on combi courts rant

16 April 2019 - 14:24 By Iavan Pijoos
Faith Mazibuko has apologised for offensive comments she made at a meeting.
Faith Mazibuko has apologised for offensive comments she made at a meeting.
Image: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu

Gauteng MEC for sport, arts, culture and recreation Faith Mazibuko on Tuesday afternoon apologised for her rant" in front of colleagues, which was leaked to the public in an audio recording.

"I would like to offer my profound apology to the people of South Africa who were offended by my remarks," she said.

Mazibuko said she had already apologised to Gauteng premier David Makhura, the senior management team and those directly affected by her remarks.

"I will continue to dedicate myself to the promotion and advancement of human rights and freedom of citizens," she said.

She was speaking before the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which on Monday said it had become aware through various social media platforms of the widely circulated recording of a meeting held by Mazibuko.

In the recording, Mazibuko is heard lambasting senior managers for failing to deliver sports facilities known as "combi courts" - purportedly to bolster support for the ANC ahead of the elections on May 8.

"I empower you, you are not empowerable. Which other department has an Indian that is a CFO? Which department has an HOD that is a mlungu [white person]? Ayikho [there is none], including national," Mazibuko was heard saying.

The commission said upon assessment of the statements, it was of the view that Mazibuko's comments infringed on a number of rights listed in the bill of rights.

On Tuesday, Mazibuko said she held an executive management meeting on the day of the recording, where they evaluated the work they had done for the month and what had been prepared for the month to come.

"We had to re-look at where our challenges are. The report that I got for the meeting was that we might be underspending on our compensation and our rollout infrastructure," she said.

Out of that meeting also came a report that their contract with the Sports Trust for 20 "combi courts" had ended.

Mazibuko said she did not find the explanation for ending the contract convincing and reacted out of frustration. "I became angry at that and I wish to apologise ... because it was uncalled for," she said.

She said it was not her intention to make it seem that she was "bullying" those who attended the meeting. "I profusely indicate that it was not my intention to segregate them, nor to ridicule them or to victimise them in the matter that came out in the recording.

"I take full responsibility to make sure that as an executive authority, I should not be the one who is found to be ... shouting at staff members," she said.

She said all meetings were recorded and her colleagues did not record her in this case to be "malicious".

Priscilla Jana, deputy chairperson of the SAHRC, said they were extremely disturbed by Mazibuko's remarks, which she described as very divisive.

Jana said Mazibuko was prepared to undergo "some kind" of course in diversity, management and sensitivity.

The commission's advocate, Andre Gaum, issued a stern warning to those who cross the line during the election campaign: "We are not afraid of anyone. We will act without fear or favour. All political leaders should be cautious in terms of what they say in the run-up to the national elections."