President Jacob Zuma brazenly declared at the weekend during an African National Congress (ANC) rally in his hometown in KwaZula-Natal that he was closely watching some of his former comrades who have labeled him a “thief” and that he knew who the “real” plunderers of the public purse were. It became chillingly clear cracks within the ruling party ran very deep.
Perhaps the most telling sign of divisions within the ANC was Monday’s unprecedented meeting in Pretoria between the party’s old guard and current crop of leadership to address the crisis the movement is facing.
Powerful attendants of the meeting came face-to-face with concerns around factionalism, gatekeeping, corruption, money politics and, of course, the elephant in the room – Zuma clinging to power despite his fitness to hold office being disputed numerous times by party insiders.
It has been fascinating to see people who were once comrades in the struggle for a free South Africa hauling each other before the courts to expose their dirty laundry (or “smaller nyana skeletons”, as Bathabile Dlamini put it) for all to see.
Here are the top five public feuds between ANC comrades:
- Marius Fransman vs. Gwede Mantashe
Suspended Western Cape chairperson Marius Fransman, who was found guilty earlier this month by a disciplinary committee of abusing his office to obtain sexual favours from his former personal assistant, Louisa Wynand, has blamed ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe for his woes, accusing him of being a liar and protecting a faction opposed to him in the Western Cape because Mantashe wanted its support to advance his ambitions to become the ruling party’s deputy president.
Wynand had accused Fransman of sexually assaulting her while driving to the ANC’s 104th birthday celebrations in Rustenburg, North West, in January.
Mantashe has previously dismissed the disgraced leader’s allegations against him as nothing but a smear campaign, saying the disciplinary process instituted by the ANC’s integrity committee earlier this year, “does not have his eyes”.
On Tuesday, acting ANC provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa slammed Fransman for using Mantashe as a “punching bag” to please ANC factions he was loyal to.
Fransman is apparently linked to the so-called “Premier League”, an alleged cabal of ANC chairpersons and premiers of the North West, Free State and Mpumalanga who are staunch backers of President Jacob Zuma and are lobbying for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him as party leader.
- Fikile Mbalula vs. Gwede Mantashe
Mantashe seems to have a number of foes within the ANC. At the weekend, City Press reported that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula reportedly lashed out at the SG in a WhatsApp group called Black Board Foundation.
Mbalula apparently said several times on the online group, allegedly created to protect Zuma subsequent to the release of the State of Capture report, he had lost respect for Mantashe.
This relates to the ANC’s coalition talks with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) after the local government elections when Mantashe allegedly begged its leader, Julius Malema, to enter into a coalition with the ANC. But one of the EFF’s conditions was that the Gupta-linked nuclear deal be scrapped.
Mbalula denied the allegations levelled against him.
- Jackson Mthembu vs. Hlaudi Motsoeneng
Last week Thursday, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu instituted a defamation case against controversial SABC group executive of corporate affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng for statements he made on live TV about meeting Mthembu at a hotel.
Following Mthembu’s criticism against the public broadcaster’s now nonexistent board and its management, Motsoeneng boldly declared on live television he had met Mthembu at a hotel organised by an unidentified person to discuss secretive matters.
Mthembu is suing Motsoeneng for a whopping R1 million, and his legal team has dared him to disclose the details of the alleged meeting.
He also wants Motsoeneng to issue an unconditional public apology for the damage caused to him as a result of the defamatory statement, both in print and over a public broadcast, within seven days of the date of judgment and to pay the legal costs.
Motsoeneng indicated he intended to challenge Mthembu in court.
- Ronnie Kasrils vs. Kebby Maphatsoe
Former intelligence minister and ANC member Ronnie Kasrils reached a settlement in September over a defamation lawsuit with uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe.
Kasrils had sued Maphatsoe also for R1 million for making public statements alleging that he orchestrated rape charges against Zuma. The deputy minister of defence and military veterans issued an apology and agreed to pay R500 000 in damages, but Kasrils isn’t pleased by Maphatsoe’s sudden change of heart.
5. David Mabuza vs. Mathews PhosaMpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and ANC veteran Mathews Phosa
A former house manager of ANC veteran Mathews Phosa turned against him when he alleged that Phosa submitted a dossier to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in September 2014 alleging that Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza was an apartheid spy.
It apparently revealed that Mabuza was an apartheid spy code-named PN485, who spied on senior ANC leaders – including President Jacob Zuma, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the late Albertina Sisulu – between 1985 and 1993.
To add fuel to fire, it alleges that he worked with notorious apartheid killers Eugene de Kock, the former Vlakplaas commander, and security policeman Butana Nofomela.
Mabuza has instituted a R10-million law suit against the former Mpumalanga premier, who denies he authored the explosive report. He has maintained that the report was only delivered to his Mpumalanga residence, and he quickly forwarded it to Duarte in September 2014.
Mabuza previously served in Phosa’s Cabinet when he was the province’s premier between 1994 and 1999 as his education MEC.
It is unclear when the case will be back in court again.