Johannesburg – Chinese-born ANC member of parliament Xiaomei Havard has broken her silence over political storm that erupted soon after she was sworn in as an MP last month.
In a frank interview with Sunday World this week, Harvard has for the first time addressed allegations that she was hauled before the party’s integrity committee to answer questions about her fraud conviction and claims of corruption in relation to her naturalisation.
Revealing that she was recruited by the governing party’s icon and former president Nelson Mandela in 2004, the ANC MP said the claims levelled against her were part of a bigger plot by “jealous people”, some of whom are from her Chinese community as well as the ANC, who are not happy with her recent political success.
She also revealed that she was supposed to have been deployed to parliament in 2019 but was robbed by certain factions in the ANC who wanted to make way for their own comrades to go to parliament.
She said she was number 98 on the list of ANC candidates submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission.
Her name was later mysteriously taken down to number 130, a position which did not allow her to immediately become an MP because the ANC garnered fewer seats than it had anticipated.
This, she said, they did because she was not part of any faction – the move, she said, which blocked her deployment to parliament.
Havard’s appointment caused a stir when she was announced as the first ANC member of Chinese origin to be appointed as an MP to take over the parliamentary seat left vacant by the death of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who succumbed to Covid-19 last month.
Her appointment also sent social media into frenzy, with most people questioning her deployment.
However, Havard told Sunday World that she was unfazed by the negative reaction to her appointment, saying she had worked hard for that honour and was deserving of that deployment like any other hardworking ANC member.
The businesswoman, who also runs a language school that specialises in teaching English to Chinese nationals, said she was not new to politics. She said Mandela urged her to join the ANC after he was impressed by her community projects.
“Nelson Mandela told me to join the ANC because he said he was happy with my work because it was benefiting a lot of people.
“I was helping community members and teaching them how to do livestock farming and operate vegetable gardens. “I was doing everything out of the goodness of my heart and didn’t expect anything in return. “So, Mandela said my work can also help the ANC.”
Although her work in the ANC was welcomed, supported and appreciated by the Chinese community, she said there were some people from her community who are jealous and who have since made it their duty to bring her down because they never thought she would succeed in politics.
“They are the ones who are telling people that I have a fraud case and that I have fake qualifications, which is not true,” she said.
Havard confirmed that she once faced a fraud charge after allegations that she forged an immigration stamp.
But she said the case was planted by her former employees whom she had fired after she discovered that they were stealing money from her deceased husband’s accounts.
“They planted a fake stamp in my office because they knew I was running an immigration business and called the police to search for it. They told the police that I was printing fake passports and visas, which was not true.”
She said her lawyer had told her that she won the case and only her sister was made to pay a fine of R3 000.
Havard confirmed that her name was on the list of 23 ANC members who were asked to appear before the integrity committee to clarify a “few things”, which were picked up by the committee during a vetting process, adding that she did not appear before the committee as she was later told that she had passed the vetting.
She took aim at the governing party’s factions, which she said were engaged in bitter battles for the control of the ANC during the party’s 2017 Nasrec conference.
She added that her qualifications were legitimate and were obtained from different universities in China, while her doctorate was obtained in South Africa at the University of Johannesburg, then called Rand Afrikaans University.
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