Pressure from Magashule made me quit, says former Free State housing head

Pressure from Magashule made me quit, says former Free State housing head

Former Free State human settlements head of department Mpho Mokoena, who lasted just two years in the job, says it was then premier Ace Magashule who pushed him out.

Mokoena was testifying at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday about a controversial R1bn low-cost housing project in the 2010/11 financial year.

When Mokoena left his position in December 2011, he had served little more than two years of his five-year tenure.

He claimed Magashule had been applying undue pressure on him to do things that did not make financial sense.

Mokoena alleged that Magashule was going around the province promising people “honey and milk” without considering the budget at the government's disposal. He said Magashule did this through his notorious “Operation Hlasela” while he was premier.

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Mokoena said Magashule wanted human settlements to build bigger houses than the 40m2 in the budget. In addition, Magashule insisted the department build more houses than those covered in the budget.

Faced with this constant pressure, Mokoena felt forced to resign and left the provincial government, taking a self-imposed demotion to work for the Mangaung metro municipality.

“In December 2011 I resigned due to the pressure I was feeling, especially from our premier, Mr Ace Magashule,” said Mokoena.

“We [the department] were under a strict schedule to turn building material we had bought into houses. At the same time, during Operation Hlasela, the premier would sporadically announce the building of more houses, regardless of him being told we do not have budget.

“My main pressure was to ensure the building material we had already bought must be converted into houses, but when we were busy trying to do so, the premier continued to allocate on the other side, outside the budget,” he claimed.

Mokoena's testimony is continuing.