Deputy finance minister responds to request to 'voluntarily step aside'

The African National Congress (ANC)'s integrity commission suggested that David Masondo step down from his roles in government and as head of the party's political school.

This follows after Masondo allegedly abused his power and state resources when he used the Hawks to intervene in a domestic dispute. Masondo has been serving as the Deputy Minister of Finance since 30 May 2019.

Why was David Masondo asked to step down?

Masondo reportedly had the Hawks arrest his mistress after she accepted a bag of cash he had sent her. It is believed that his mistress wanted the money for psychological support following an abortion.

Chairperson of the integrity commission, George Mashamba, said in a notice addressed to Masondo that he should've known the Hawks' mandate was to investigate corruption and organised crime, not matters of a personal nature. Mashamba said:

"Your actions have brought disrepute to the organisation, but in acknowledging this and taking responsibility, you have shown commitment to the organisation and the ideals we strive to achieve".

Masondo 'showed poor judgement'

Mashamba added that the integrity commission has "confidence that lessons have been learned from the ordeal" Masondo is going through. However, the letter states that Masondo "showed poor judgement" nonetheless.

"You are not an ordinary member of the public. You are a senior leader of the ANC and a deputy minister. You should have known that the mandate of the Hawks is to investigate corruption and offences that fall under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act."

Personal matters not Hawks' mandate

In addition, Mashamba said the demands that his mistress placed on him for money, "while inconvenient, did not fall within the description of extortion under the Act or within the mandate of the Hawks".

Mashamba said that a "paternalistic attitude towards women cannot be solved by addressing the Gender Commission".

"We hope that in light of the above you would voluntarily step aside from both your positions so that our recommendation that you be removed from the position you hold at the Political School, and that you step aside from your appointment as Deputy Minister of Finance would be redundant".

David Masondo's response

Masondo replied, in a letter titled The matter between myself and Ms Palesa Lebitse, saying that he "was taken aback" as he was under the impressions that that "there was nothing wrong in [him] reporting a crime". He added:

"I acknowledge the advice by the Commission given to me to consider stepping aside on the basis that I reported to the police what I regarded as a criminal act of extortion, harassment and death threats, which the Commission seems to regard as a 'domestic matter'".

He also acknowledged reporting the "matter to the wrong section of the police, the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation, also colloquially known as the Hawks".

Masondo explained that he reported the matter to the Hawks when Lebitse "intensified and expanded her harassment and torments" directed at his family, including Masondo's sister, brother and mother-in-law. He added:

"I wish to put on record that I never discussed with the ANC Integrity Commission the details of Ms Lebitse's pregnancy and her possible subsequent health condition. I did state to the Commission that this is a matter of patient-doctor confidentiality."

Masondo reportedly attached to the letter legal advice which informed his decision to report the matter to the police, as well as his submission to the Public Protector following the Democratic Alliance's allegation that he abused his power.

Masondo also attached written submission sent to the Integrity Commission, as well as "WhatsApp messages that corroborate the harassment and torment" his family were subjected to by Lebitse.

Masondo has not indicated if he will step down or not.