Corruption is not something to compete about: MEC Xolile Nqatha
A day after telling a memorial service for a departed comrade that it was un-ANC to discipline cadres who are in Covid-19 isolation because they are stressed, and a disciplinary process would compromise their immune systems, Eastern Cape MEC Xolile Nqatha did his best to convince MPs the province was not corrupt.
Nqatha was leading an Eastern Cape delegation appearing before the National Assembly's portfolio committee on cooperative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) to talk about the province's response to Covid-19.
The meeting was robust, with MPs, including those of the ANC, asking tough questions of the province, which has been in the news for Covid-19 scandals and corruption allegations.
Some MPs labelled the province corrupt. Other said it was among the most corrupt provinces, and suggested it should be placed under the administration of the national government.
“Corruption is not something to compete about. Corruption, whatever its scale, is totally unacceptable, it is wrong. I am referring to the point that the Eastern Cape is number one in corruption,” Nqatha said in response to MPs who said the province ranked high on corruption.
“I know provinces whose government collapsed and the national government had to intervene and take over. I know banks have collapsed because of corruption in some provinces.
“It's not an issue we should be competing about. It's an issue we should condemn and act upon,” he said.
Nqatha had earlier explained the context within which he made the comments about Alfred Mtsi at the memorial service for Buffalo City's late speaker.
Nqatha told MPs that as Cogta MEC, he had been interacting with issues in that municipality.
“There were reports in five wards of manipulations and corruption around vouchers for food parcels,” he said.
Two councillors were allegedly implicated in the fraud, and the provincial Cogta department was investigating because the Buffalo City municipality had not been moving on the matter.
Nqatha said he had also been communicating with Mtsi as enforcing the code of conduct of councillors resided with the speaker of the municipality.
Nqatha said the municipality's municipal public accounts committee had investigated findings of irregular expenditure which allegedly pointed to the weaknesses of the city manager.
He said there was a process to suspend and discipline the city manager.
“The city manager is in quarantine. He is sick and there is an acting city manager.
"That is the context in which I was saying that even the disciplinary process must be postponed once somebody submits a sick note, and therefore it becomes inhumane when you can't wait for 14 days for people to come out [of self-isolation] so people are declared fit.
"Otherwise my whole speech was against corruption," he said.