The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has called for Gauteng Premier David Makhura to consider dismissing Gauteng MEC for sport and recreation Faith Mazibuko.
This, after amaBhungane published an audio clip on Wednesday in which she allegedly tried to force her staff to disregard procurement processes in the construction of sports facilities in order to help the ANC win elections.
Mazibuko has since issued a statement, saying she apologised to her subordinates for her behaviour but denied that her instructions to senior managers in the department were illegal.
The ANC in Gauteng referred Mazibuko to its provincial integrity commission, while the provincial ANC Women's League (ANCWL) said on Thursday it accepted her apology unreservedly and stood behind their chairperson.
Kathrada Foundation executive director Neeshan Balton said it was "precisely the type of attitude exhibited by Mazibuko that led to the Life Esidimeni tragedy, where public officials were put under pressure by their political heads, resulting in improper and unethical decision making. We've seen the disastrous consequences of this tragedy, yet it seems that MEC Mazibuko still thinks that it's okay to bully officials into bypassing proper procedures."
He said the country's experience of state capture the last few years had shown what could go wrong when public servants did not stand up to political pressure or unlawful or irregular processes.
"That the MEC, whose duty it is to provide services to the public, appears to want to use this project for party political gains just before the elections is grossly irregular and is possibly a violation of the electoral code of conduct."
Mazibuko said in her statement that she was apologising to the people of Gauteng.
"Out of frustration for lack of delivery, I became emotional and used inappropriate tone and language to show my frustration at lack of delivery.
"I wish to unreservedly apologise to all senior managers who were in the meeting, all staff members in the department, the premier and the people of Gauteng for the tone that I used and my general conduct in the meeting."
At the same time, she denied any unlawful conduct.
"I wish to reiterate that at no stage did I give unlawful instructions to senior managers in the department except to stress the importance of achieving performance targets of the department and fulfilling promises made to communities as part of service delivery agreements and that this should be carried out within the prescripts of the law," she said.
Balton said that based on the evidence in the audio clip, they would be writing to the Public Service Commission, the South African Human Rights Commission and the premier, calling on them to act.
An "appalled" Public Servants Association (PSA) called for appropriate action to be taken.
'Politically-aligned leadership will flout rules and regulations'
It pointed out that in the Nkandla debacle and other recent incidents, workers were instructed to grant approvals that were not above board.
"These workers were later blamed and brought to book for this while they, in fact, acted on instructions," said PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks.
"This incident shows that given any opportunity beneficial to them, politically-aligned leadership will flout rules and regulations applicable in the Public Service for the procurement of services and use ordinary employees to do so."
Provincial ANCWL secretary Esther Nhlapo said that in Mazibuko's "impassioned plea for forgiveness", she "showed leadership and realised that she erred in her utterances".
She said they had been concerned by the comments and consulted Mazibuko because the ANC promoted non-sexism, non-racism and an equal society for all to work, live and exist.
"The ANC Women's League in Gauteng would further like to apologise on behalf of the Chairperson for what could be misconstrued as racist and non-inclusive statements. Again, this is the stance of the ANC Women's League and we are in no way condoning any discrimination based on race, creed, gender or religious orientation."
The ANCWL did not miss a beat in addressing public servants on their responsibilities.
It encouraged "all officials in government, Whites, Blacks, Coloureds or Indians, to try their best in ensuring that service delivery schedules are adhered to with the strictest attention to detail.
"The MECs frustration on a lag in delivering services is a frustration that is felt by the poorest of the poor in communities. The ANCWL once more appeals to public servants to deliver quality services to our communities on time and unconditionally."