Opposition political parties yesterday accused Eastern Cape MEC for Social Development Xoliswa Tom of allowing a R5.5million youth development programme to be hijacked by the ANC to benefit its own members and supporters.
One DA politician referred to it as “abuse of power” and stressed that they and other opposition parties were never asked to participate in the programme.
The Dispatch has evidence showing Tom sent instructions to her departmental heads, area managers, ANC parliamentarians and other party deployees to recruit 320 ANC members to join a youth development project.
The project, Masupa Tsela (which in Sesotho means paving the way forward), is a joint venture between South Africa and Cuba. It is aimed at giving unemployed rural youths skills to become entrepreneurs.
Tom said the programme was discussed at executive committee level but the details and implementation were an administrative matter.
She referred further enquiries to her departmental head Denver Webb.
He insisted the programme was at no stage confined to a single political party.
“The first error in this is that the official who drafted this erred in singling out one political party.
“The second error occurred when the officials signed without noticing the mistake, and without first checking with me or the MEC.”
Webb failed to explain how the memorandum came to be signed off. Other political parties did not receive copies of the memo.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson for social development Veliswa Mvenya said it was an abuse of power and government resources by Tom for narrow political gains.
“We call on Tom to withdraw her memo as it is a blatant abuse of government programmes to get votes for the ANC. It is clear they are worried by the emergence of Cope.
“We further call for Tom to cancel the programme until such time that all political parties are involved and it is done in a transparent manner.”
Tom’s memo led to the department’s chief operating officer, Nozuko Yokwana, sending a letter (reproduced above) to all district co-ordinators requesting them to contact ANC MPs and MPLs to make arrangements for the recruiting process.
The memo said Tom had appointed U’thant Siyo, a junior official at the department, to head the youth programme.
Siyo confirmed he was given the job in place of Masiza Mazizi, former premier Nosimo Balindlela’s spokesperson, who had been sent to another department on “precautionary transfer” for being absent from work.
This followed Mazizi attending a Cope press conference during lunchtime last year where he announced his resignation from the ANC.
Webb said in an e-mail he had put Mazizi under precautionary transfer to Yokwana’s office for 60 days, pending an investigation into his conduct.
But independent sources at the department said Webb was under pressure from the ANC to fire Mazizi because he was a Cope follower – and because he had challenged the decision by Tom of making Masupa Tsela an ANC programme.
“Webb is under tremendous pressure to get rid of Mazizi since he joined Cope,” said an official, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
But Webb denied it: “The issue was not a political one but a simple case of the code of conduct for public servants.”
Yesterday, Mazizi confirmed that the programme was taken away from him and that he had been transferred to another directorate.