Leaking of Lesufi recording a political play - analysts
Durban - Political analysts have continued to weigh in on the alleged tender fraud debacle involving Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Barely six months since former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, were dragged before the ANC’s integrity committee to account for PPE tender irregularities, some analysts believe that the leaking of a recording in which Lesufi allegedly promises to fix tender issues for certain people has been called “strategic” and “a political play”.
“People in the ANC are playing games, and it seems they want to see which side of the factional divide you would fall on,” said political analyst Ebrahim Fakir.
Lesufi has claimed that there are “forces at play”.
“I am fully aware that there are forces at play who want to assassinate my character for political expediency. Unfortunately, in a democratic society, the accuser doesn’t have to prove their allegations, but the accused must prove their innocence,” he said in a statement released last week.
His office said there was no "secret meeting" and the MEC had been invited by the SA National Civic Organisation as part of a community meeting last year.
It added that said the community of Soshanguve had grown concerned after a school had gone months without electricity because of a tender dispute.
"At the community meeting, attended by school governing bodies (SGBs), learner formations, business forums, school principals and community formations such as community policing forums, the MEC explained how contracts were advertised and adjudicated in government in general. For the record, this meeting took place in May 2020,” his office said.
Lesufi’s department recently came under fire when R431 million was spent in three months on a contract to sanitise schools. The department and Lesufi’s management were also under the spotlight in 2019/19 when R1.2 billion in irregular expenditure was found by the auditor-general.
Fakir maintains that although Lesufi’s performance as Gauteng MEC for Education may not have been that great, he doubted this latest attack had anything to do with his department’s performance.
“But if leaking this information was related to his performance, then why leak it now and not last year when this conversation apparently happened?” said Fakir.
Political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu said he believed that Lesufi had created a good name for himself as a strong MEC for Education, and that the only way to get him out would be to assassinate his character.
“There is definitely something sinister going on that could be related to jealousy or factionalism.
“We are at a point in politics where people will do anything and everything to tarnish the names of all those who they consider political enemies,” Mngomezulu said.