Cape Town – ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has reportedly been silenced by the party following his admission that members lied to parliament about the fire pool at former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
The ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), believes Mbalula is campaigning against the party and plans to give him guidelines before allowing him to speak to the media, News24 reported.
In a significant revelation earlier this month at the Mjindi Town Hall in Barberton, Mbalula openly admitted that the ANC had lied for many years to keep the Nkandla fire pool issue quiet, especially after the Constitutional Court deemed Zuma to be unfit for office.
This led to many South Africans, all across social media, talking about the scandal and questioned whether the ANC was the party to lead South Africa, IOL reported.
ALSO READ | Mbalula’s fire pool comments place shadow over ANC 112-year celebrations
It also led to speculation that the ANC may be protecting current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his Phala Phala farm scandal too.
Insiders from the national executive committee (NEC) said that the party’s top decision-making body perceived Mbalula’s actions as campaigning against the ANC, as reported by News24.
“We think he forgets that he is not our boss. The boss is the NEC, and the president is the main boss; we will discuss it at the next NEC because we believe he is ‘de-campaigning’ the ANC. The office [of the secretary-general] is the highest office, and he must respect that,” the insiders reportedly said.
Mbalula’s comments drew criticism from ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who suggested Mbalula got carried away in front of journalists.
“I thought he was carried away by you guys; he saw your cameras, he got taken away, and he said things he should not have said. To me, it’s an issue that we have to deal with internally.
VIDEO | ANC NEC member Gwede Mantashe says there’s no need to expel former president Jacob Zuma from the party as he has walked away on his own. #Mantashe also says ANC Secretary General Fikile #Mbalula was excited when speaking about the ANC’s support for the Nkandla upgrades. pic.twitter.com/VQpDhrVJSq
— SABC News (@SABCNews) January 9, 2024
“When you lead, you count every word you say. If you don’t, you catch fire. And I think this is something that you learn in the trade. As you grow in the trade, you understand that better. You can say things without being excited, but say and explain things very well,” Mantashe said.
Mbalula did not take Mantashe’s comments lying down, as he responded swiftly to the allegations by the party chairperson, claiming he tried to call him to set the record straight.
“The national chair, we have protocols. I have been trying to get hold of him [Mantashe] the whole day, but I understand we’re in the field and I couldn’t get hold of him. We’ve got protocols, we don’t talk past each other we don’t talk in the media and we don’t promote public spats,” Mbalula said.
“I’ve been trying to get hold of Gwede Mantashe the whole day, but I understand we’re in the field & I couldn’t get hold of him, We’ve got protocols, we don’t talk past each other we don’t talk in the media and we don’t promote public spats” ANC SG Fikile Mbalula
Video : SABC… pic.twitter.com/23DanOKe0S
— News Live SA (@newslivesa) January 9, 2024
“I’m available, open to counsel from elders and everyone to give me guidance. I’m not allergic to any criticism. So, in respect of those protocols, be the first to break them, the national chair could have raised the issues with me if he’s got concerns about what I said,” he added.
Political analysts view Mbalula’s approach as counterproductive and potentially damaging to the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom Mbalula supports, The Citizen reported.
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Compiled by Betha Madhomu