Friday 13 July 2012

Burgers-for-art saga forces South African politician out of office

Humphrey Mmemezi, 57, who bought a painting using government credit card as a McDonald’s purchase equivalent to 256 burger meals, has resigned.

An executive of the ruling African National Congress, last year, Mmemezi ran up a 10,000-rand (US$1,220) bill on the credit card at a McDonald’s restaurant in Pretoria.

However, the funds made their way out of the McDonald’s account, into another account and finally to a Johannesburg art gallery.
The politician who had served in the Gauteng provincial government for 18 months stated:  “After consultation with my organisation, through the ANC integrity committee, … I have decided that the most honourable thing to do under these circumstances is to step down,” as regional minister for Gauteng province.”

The artist did not have facilities to receive card payments.
The fast food giant said in May the owner-operator “was empathetic to the needs of a friend, the artist” by offering him to use his restaurant’s credit card facility to process the transaction.
 “In hindsight, the owner-operator agrees that this was an innocent error of judgment,” McDonald’s said.

He also admitted to also using the card to buy suits in India and groceries from a local store, but said he had reimbursed for that and the artwork. He described his personal use of the card as “ambiguity,” noting that “these purchases were an error of judgement on my part for which I take full responsibility and would want to apologise profusely.”

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