EDITORIAL | Time for the premier to walk his talk

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Oscar Mabuyane kicked off his premiership on Wednesday vowing to get to the bottom of corruption allegations involving the Mbizana municipality. And so he should.
The scandal which broke out days before Mabuyane was sworn into office is a demonstration of the murky politics and culture of corruption that has been synonymous with the Eastern Cape for many years.
What we know is that a million rand was received from the poor Mbizana municipality by politically connected businessman Lonwabo Bam, allegedly at the instruction of ANC treasurer Babalo Madikizela.
At least R450,000 of that money was paid to Mabuyane’s home renovator, a transaction the premier says was an innocent loan from Madikizela.
On Wednesday, Mabuyane said he had since paid back the loan to Madikizela as he believed it was in fact undesirable for him as premier to owe money to a member of the legislature. Notably, he has pleaded ignorance of the source of the funds when he accepted the loan.
Indeed, there is no available evidence to prove otherwise. Still, this does not settle it.
The victims here are the people of Mbizana who lost out on money that appears to have been stolen, if Bam’s whistle-blowing is to be believed.
We, therefore, believe that there are serious grounds that compel a criminal investigation into how and why this money left that municipality.
Further, the public deserves to know who was behind what at best appears to be a questionable transaction and at worst, blatant theft from the poor.
We believe that our law enforcement machinery is duty bound to ensure these answers are made known as soon as possible and that where laws have been broken, the perpetrators, regardless of who they are, are held accountable.
In the meantime, Mabuyane’s choice of a provincial cabinet next week will be the first tangible demonstration of how committed he is to his anti-corruption rhetoric.
Speaking right is one thing. It’s now time for the premier to walk his talk.

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