A Gauteng politician bought a painting with state funds by disguising it as a purchase of 256 Big Mac burger meals from a South African franchise of MacDonalds.
It has been brought to light that Humphrey Mmemezi, the housing minister in South Africa's Gauteng province, used his government-issued credit card to buy R10 000.00 worth of burgers at a McDonald's joint in the capital city of Pretoria last year, The Star newspaper reports. R10 000.00 is enough money to buy 256 Big Mac burger meals, each accompanied by a large serving of French Fries and a softdrink.
The money was authorised into a bank account belonging to the fast-food chain. However, the money was later transferred to a different account owned by Art Unusual, a commercial art gallery in Pretoria. The truly unusual transaction reportedly allowed Mmemezi to obtain the artwork from the shop.
The artist, who also works as the manager of Art Unusual, Alfred Addo, confirmed that the local minister bought the painting, but also noted that it was for his office, and not for his personal use. However, Addo refused to discuss the purchase in any detail. "I am just an artist," he told The Star. "I did the painting and now know that the department paid me."
McDonald's also confirmed that the transfer of funds had taken place, saying that the company's local owner-operator, Cyril Ramaphosa, a notable anti-Apartheid activist, "was empathetic to the needs of a friend, the artist" by offering him to use his restaurant's credit card facilities to process the transaction, AFP reported.
"In hindsight, the owner-operator agrees that this was an innocent error of judgment," McDonalds stated.The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa's main opposition party questioned Mmemezi's supersized McDonald's expenses."What was the justification of this purchase?" The DA's spokesman on local government and housing, Francis Nel, wrote in a question to the province's legislature speaker. "Why was this artwork bought through a McDonald's branch, and was all expenditure in line with the guideline concerning the use of credit cards?"
Mmemezi has yet to give a statement with regard to his purchase.