Immediate and decisive action must be taken against the Deputy minister of finance, Dr. David Masondo, for his despicable conduct

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By: Dineo Motaung 

Every ANC member should be shocked and dismayed by the conduct of the Deputy
Minister of Finance, Dr. David Masondo, that came into the public spotlight over the past
few days.

Before expanding on the despicable conduct of Dr. Masondo, it is important to understand
the seniority of Dr. Masondo within the African National Congress (ANC), and the South
African government: He is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the
ANC, which is the highest decision-making structure of the ANC, and also serves as the
Principle of the OR Tambo School of Leadership. Within government, he is the Deputy
Minister of Finance, one of the most senior and critical ministries. Evidently Dr. Masondo
has presented himself, and is considered by many in the ANC and our South African
society, as a leader and person to be looked up to for political and moral guidance.

Dr. Masondo himself often presented himself as a person of high moral standards, and a
crusader against all forms of corruption and maladministration. That was certainly the
profile that he projected of himself in the run-up, during, and after the 54th National
Conference of the ANC – and a claim on which he garnered enough support to be elected
into the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC. In the process of doing so Dr.
Masondo went on record to pass harsh judgements on what he considered to be the
apparent moral shortcomings of other comrades.

Evidently he presented himself as an ‘Angel of Morality’, and wanted to be seen as such.
In doing so he set himself – together with some other comrades who presented themselves
in a similar manner to the members of the ANC and the South African public in general – a
high set of moral standards that they themselves have to be measured against, and live up
to. The old maxim applies: Namely that you yourself must first and foremost live up to the
moral standards that you demand others to be judged by.

The revelations that came to light during the last few days about the manner in which Dr.
Masondo conducted himself towards a 30-year old woman with whom he had an affair,
and who he impregnated, raise very serious questions about whether he actually lives up
to the moral standards that he purports to aspire to. Instead, it leaves one with a deeply uncomfortable sense that he does not walk the talk of his own moral campaigning, and is
living the life of a hypocrite.

After having cheated on his wife, and mother of his two children, Dr. Masondo tried to
cover up the betrayal of his marriage by putting huge pressure on the woman he had an
affair with to have an abortion. The gynecologist that Dr. Masondo took the pregnant
woman in order to have her pregnancy terminated, seems to have been in co-hoots with
him in order to keep all hush-hush and covered up. In doing so the woman was apparently
placed under undue pressure not to go to an appropriate medical facility to have her
pregnancy terminated under safe and proper medically controlled conditions, but instead
given ‘abortion pills’, which she had to take at home. She was left to basically conduct a
high-risk self-administered abortion alone at home, and which resulted in an extremely emotionally traumatic and physically dangerous experience for her. This she shared with Dr. Masondo, and on his own volition, he initiated a promise to pay her for damages, and for psychological counselling. Having initiated this offer, he then made the abuse worse by repeatedly having failed to honour his word, adding to the trauma that the woman already suffered and placing her in the humiliating situation that she had to plead and cajole him to make good on his own promises.

As it turned out, Dr. Masondo, apparently never made good on his promises, instead, he
framed the woman to appear to be extorting money from him, and laid charges of
blackmailing against her. With him having done so, one is left with the disturbing
impression that Dr. Masondo abused his power and influence as a senior politician, and
Deputy Minister, in order to get members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation
(The Hawks) conduct a ‘sting’ operation and arrest the woman and hold her for a weekend
in police custody, while she believed that she was receiving money from Dr. Masondo on
the basis of the promises that he had made. It is important to note the woman’s own
words, regarding this terrible ordeal: “David having me … thrown in jail for nothing was one of the most violent acts I have experienced… It will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

It is furthermore important to note that after the ordeal of having had to spend a weekend
in police custody, a senior public prosecutor declined to prosecute, and she was released
without even having had to appear before a magistrate.

The question arises how no less than eight members of The Hawks saw it appropriate to
spend their time and state resources on what was evidently a cooked up plan to intimidate
the woman, and cowar her into silence. It is important to remember that the mandate of
The Hawks is to target “serious organised crime, serious commercial crime and serious
corruption”. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Dr. Masondo abused his substantial
political power and influence to get the Hawks to overstep their mandate, in order to assist
him to settle a ‘personal score’ with a woman who insisted that he should honour his word
to her.

This is indeed a very serious situation, and a formal complaint should be registered with
the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate, as a matter of
urgency, concerning any undue pressure that may have been brought to bear on the
Hawks by Dr. Masondo to abuse their powers. It will also be important for IPID to
investigate if Dr. Masondo used/abused his proximity to any of his fellow comrades who in
terms of their formal line functions are politically in charge of the South African Police
Service (SAPS), to get the Hawks to behave in this manner. It is my distinct impression
that what the woman, who was the victim of their ‘sting’ operation reported, is a serious
abuse of power, and tantamount to corruption.

The behaviour of the gynecologist that Dr. Masondo took the woman in order to
conduct a covert abortion deserves investigation and decisive sanction. From all accounts,
his conduct caused her serious psychological trauma, and also exposed her to significant
potential physical harm. This is certainly not how any medical practitioner who is bound by
the Hypocritic Oath should behave. Therefore the woman deserves all the support from
every conscientious AMC member with regards to the complaint that she registered
against the gynecologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA),
and also to the police. The Health Professions Council should suspend the gynecologist
with immediate effect from continuing to practice, pending the outcome of the investigation
into the complaint. Giving strong support to will help to emphasise this particular case, but also in general highlight how some medical practitioners become far too often complicit in the abuse of women.

Our society is in a very serious crisis, with femicide and the abuse of women and children
having reached endemic proportions. It should always be the case, but especially at this
current critical juncture, it is critical that our political leaders must, without fear or favour, be seen to take decisive steps against the abuse women and children. By her own words, and the facts that have come to light about her relationship with Dr. Masondo, the woman in question was in a relationship that became emotionally and physically abusive.

It is appropriate to call on Dr. Masondo to subject himself to the strict moral norms that he
promoted in his ascendancy to political power and high office, and therefore to fall on his
own sword and to resign as Deputy Minister with immediate effect. The ANC NEC must
also, be put under pressure to be decisive in their leadership against the abuse of women,
and to immediately institute disciplinary action against Dr. Masondo.

The time has come for decisive leadership to bring the insidious abuse, and sexual
exploitation of women in our society to an end.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Every woman, together with every progressive male in our society, must make it clear to
Dr. Masondo, and all other men who conduct themselves in this abusive manner towards
women (whether they are ANC comrades, or not): “NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE
WOMEN; YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK: YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER; YOU
WILL BE CRUSHED”.

 

* Dineo Motaung is a member of the African National Congress in the Free State