'It's no competition, but there are provinces that are more corrupt than the Eastern Cape' - MEC Xolile Nqatha
A day after telling a memorial service of a departed comrade that it was un-ANC to discipline cadres that 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 that the province was not corrupt.
Nqatha was leading an Eastern Cape delegation that was appearing before the National Assembly's portfolio committee on co-operative governance & traditional affairs 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 a number of Covid-19 scandals and corruption allegations.
Some MPs labelled the province corrupt, with others saying it was among the most corrupt provinces and suggesting that 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,” he said in response to a number of 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 because the province has collapsed. I know where banks have collapsed because of corruption in some provinces.
“It's not an issue that we should be competing about, it's an issue that we should condemn and act upon it,” he said shutting the debate on branding the Eastern Cape as corrupt.
Nqatha had earlier explained the context within which he made the much-talked-about comments at Alfred Mtsi, the late Buffalo City speaker's, memorial service.
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, as 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.
So 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.”
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