The SACP had called for investigations to determine whether Thandi Shongwe’s social development department was not being used in the “marketing” of Bushiri through the use of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Social development MEC Thandi Shongwe has slammed her critics in the eHlanzeni SACP over donations given to the province by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, naming them one by one and calling on them to show some humaneness.
Shongwe said it was unfair of the SACP to label her as corrupt without the proof to back up such allegations.
She speaks a week after the eHlanzeni SACP released a statement calling on the Mpumalanga ANC “to assess” whether she is fit to continue as MEC.
Regional communist leader Bhobert Nkosi in the statement released last Thursday 7 May 2020 said when Shongwe used to be speaker of the Mpumalanga legislature she spent thousands of rands in taxpayers’ money while attending Bushiri’s church in Gauteng in 2018.
She was also accused of using close to R3 million of taxpayers money to purchase two Mercedes Benz SUVs in 2015. She bought the first brand new iridium silver Mercedes Benz ML 500 for R1.3 million immediately after she was elected speaker of the legislature in 2014, but in 2015 that Merc crashed and forced Shongwe to purchase another one, this time a cost of R1.5 million, a Merc GLE 500 – also iridium silver in colour.
Nkosi said Shongwe was also embroiled in the controversy around the construction of Nelson Mandela’s statue outside the legislature, which cost a shocking R8 million while she was MEC for sports and culture in late 2018.
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“She also spent over R300 000 on her cellphone bills from taxpayers money while she was MEC of sports and culture,” Nkosi said, saying they were calling for a probe into whether Shongwe is not using the Covid-19 pandemic to promote Bushiri’s church through the government’s social development department.
Shongwe rejects the allegations as a “smear campaign”
She said her critics were advancing a personal agenda and she didn’t understand why they don’t open a case of corruption if they believe such is taking place.
She said she was challenging the SACP to give proof of the claims against her and therefore rejects “in the strongest terms the impression created”.
“I will not be deterred nor be blackmailed by an individual who is trying hard to mislead the people of Mpumalanga using the SACP,” said Shongwe.
Shongwe singled out Mpumalanga’s Ziwaphi newspaper and the SACP and said they were being used to settle personal scores.
“I’m aware that people are being mobilised to come up with fake details about corruption in my department. Anyone is free to open a case of corruption with the law enforcement agencies and the SACP in this regard is challenged to present those details publicly than to mislead the public,” she said.
She said the food donations from Bushiri and other donors were given to her in a transparent manner and are meant to alleviate the suffering caused by the pandemic to the poor masses of this province.
Shongwe said her department has received about 25 000 food parcels from donors such as Portia Shabangu Foundation, Islamic Relief, Red Cross South Africa, Bushiri’s church in Mbombela where she attends, Sibanye Still Waters and RCL Foods.
She the food parcels were distributed within the confines of the lockdown regulations and more than 40 000 food parcels are distributed in the province through the social relief program.
“Distribution is done by the human resource infrastructure, which are the social workers, community development practitioners, social auxiliary workers and administration officials,” she said.
Shongwe said she never instructed any truck to go and load food parcels from the food bank, “people must not be misled”.
Last month it was reported that Bushiri was prevented by the Hawks from donating food parcels, hand sanitisers and masks to the poor of Witbank on Friday 24 April 2020. It alleged Shongwe was involved in securing the permit by Bushiri but Shongwe said all this was false.
“I will not be shaken nor lose focus in executing my duties by ensuring that life of ordinary people change. I will continue to work hard in mobilising donors for the people of Mpumalanga province and I thank all partners who have come on board to support the department. I appeal that we continue to work together for the people of Mpumalanga. The department still needs a lot of help from business, churches and individuals to come on board and assist the people of Mpumalanga”.
(edited by MLM)
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