Ace’s possible premier successors compromised – Roy Jankielsohn

Ms Mmathabo Leeto currently faces two counts of corruption, three counts of fraud and five counts of money laundering

Ace’s possible premier successors compromised

13 March 2018

With time running out for Premier Ace Magashule to vacate his office, the choices for a replacement for Premier of the Free State are very restricted.

A front runner for the position, Ms Mmathabo Leeto, the MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, is compromised by serious criminal charges against her. She faces two (2) counts of corruption, three (3) counts of fraud and five (5) counts of money laundering relating to her term as Mayor of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality. In a reply to DA Member of the National Council of Provinces, George Michalakis, the Minister of Police confirmed that the charges were reinstated against the MEC "after further investigations were conducted and the police secured additional evidence which they were previously unable to secure when charges were initially preferred against her".

In the same reply, the Minister also confirmed that "the matter against MEC for the Free State Department of Environmental Affairs, Tourism, Economic Affairs and Small Business Development, Dr Benny Malakoane, and 6 Others has been set down for trial from 13-27 March 2018". The charges against MEC Malakoane are two (2) counts of corruption, four (4) counts of fraud, four (4) counts of money laundering and three (3) counts of contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Another front runner for the position, the MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, Sam Mashinini, heads up a department in which corruption and nepotism was entrenched under the deceased former Head of Department, Mr Msibi. The MEC's motives for failing to take action against the former HOD in the face of overwhelming evidence of criminal activities are a source of concern.

Even the MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, was implicated in a National Treasury investigation involving the awarding of communication contracts to Letlaka Media and Communications, as the former Director-General (DG) in the Office of Premier Magashule. Magashule failed to institute criminal investigations against the DG as stipulated in the investigation report.

Magashule's rival faction is headed up by Thabo Manyoni who was implicated with Magashule and the former Secretary of the Free State Legislature, Bernard Phitsane, in soliciting shares in a development as evidenced in affidavits presented to court during a dispute over a property deal in the Mangaung Metro.

Both ANC factions in the Free State are facing a serious credibility crises.

It remains the prerogative of the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) to appoint the new Premier. The NEC have very few choices who are not tainted by some form of corruption scandal in the Free State.

With the 2019 elections looming, the DA remains the only viable electoral alternative for voters who want to free themselves from the poverty trap caused by the ANC-led provincial government's corrupt patronage network.

Issued by Roy JankielsohnLeader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature, 13 March 2018