GAUTENG's embattled local government and housing MEC, Humphrey Mmemezi, resigned yesterday after months of declaring his innocence and fighting off allegations of unethical conduct levelled against him.

Mr Mmemezi has promised to pay back the personal purchases he had made with an official credit card, but has consistently denied allegations of nepotism.

His resignation comes as the African National Congress (ANC) moves to repair its image as a party that has overlooked criminal allegations against its members deployed in government positions and for not holding them accountable for maladministration.

Although the ANC's policy conference last month was not meant to pass resolutions, delegates recommended that its members in government who faced allegations of corruption should step aside until their names had been cleared, since inaction during an investigation tarnished the party's image.

Mr Mmemezi is accused of abusing a government-issue credit card, damaging an official vehicle, and of appointing his niece as his secretary and allowing her access to official vehicles despite her junior status. That was while he worked at the Mogale City municipality before his appointment to the legislature.

He has appeared before the legislature's integrity committee as well as a newly formed ANC Integrity Commission over the matter.

In his resignation letter, Mr Mmemezi said some of the allegations against him were "patently false" and were aimed at tarnishing his reputation and that of the ANC.

"Some of the expenditure items published as costs incurred by me are also false. All the allegations about my work in Mogale City are also blatantly untrue," he said.

Mr Mmemezi said he would take legal action against the media for the "untruths" published about him. He did, however, "deeply regret" some of the personal purchases he made using his government credit card, and pleaded ignorance.

"I got the impression that I could use the credit card for both official and personal purchases, as long as I could repay the department for personal expenses."

He said the purchases were an "error of judgment" and apologised, vowing to repay the money.

Premier Nomvula Mokonyane accepted Mr Mmemezi's resignation, saying her office has taken into account "the due processes that unfolded". It was reported that she was set to fire him anyway. Infrastructure development MEC Bheki Nkosi would stand in for him.

Mr Mmemezi, who is also the deputy secretary of the ANC in Gauteng, is not out of the woods yet. A report from the party's Integrity Commission was expected to be handed to the provincial leadership and further action could be taken.

The Democratic Alliance welcomed Mr Mmemezi 's resignation, but said he still had to account for his alleged misdeeds.

marriann@bdfm.co.za