Civic group South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) called EFF leader Julius Malema a demagogue over the weekend and slammed what they described as theatrics and baseless accusations of new state capture, relating to Malema’s assertion at Saturday’s birthday bash to celebrate the EFF’s fifth birthday that Patrice Motsepe is doing the “same thing” as the Guptas did. They also accused Malema of being South Africa’s answer to Donald Trump.
The EFF responded today, ridiculing the organisation for being too small to be worthy of a response.
Who is SANCO, what is SANCO, where is SANCO based? Can they first fill up that brown funeral’s tent before we give them the dignity of a response.
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) July 30, 2018
In response, a Twitter user pointed out that Sanco’s deputy president, Mathabo Leeto, is facing corruption charges in Bloemfontein’s high court.
Leeto, who was a sports MEC and the ANC mayor of Matjhabeng Municipality at the time, is alleged to have awarded a tender of R15 million to procure photocopy machines and to install telephonic systems, as well as CCTV cameras for the municipality, allegedly without following correct tender processes.
She was arrested and later released after the charges were withdrawn.
SANCO's Deputy President Mathabo Leeto is facing corruption charges in Bloemfontein High Court. Their Treasurer is that Roy Moodly fellow who paid Zuma R1m salary a month as security guard & played the middle man for Transnet tenders. https://t.co/x0ofY4W8K6
— Bra Hloni (@HonourableHloni) July 30, 2018
In a bid to answer the many questions the EFF have about Sanco, we spoke to its national spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu. When asked about Leeto, he said: “I am not aware of the details but I do know that, as an organisation, Sanco believes that anyone who is found guilty of corruption deserves to face the harshest measures of the law.”
According to Mahlangu, Sanco predates the end of apartheid but became a formal organisation at the same time that South Africa was liberated. He says they were initially a collective of members of various progressive NGOs and civic organisation.
Mahlangu denied that they have an agenda against the EFF, saying “we have criticised the EFF not in all aspects but when appropriate. We do count EFF supporters among our members.”
He described Sanco as “left-leaning”, adding that they look after the interests of “marginalised, dispossessed communities” in an attempt to”improve the lives of the poor.”
Mahlangu added that they are not a political organisation but do look at how politics affects communities, and work closely with parties they feel are aligned to their agenda.
Asked why, if they are a pro-poor organisation, they felt the need to jump to billionaire Motsepe’s defence, Mahlangu highlighted Motsepe’s philanthropic work.
“Patrice Motsepe’s foundation has done a lot of good work that the poor have benefited from. He is not someone who became rich through government tenders; he is a self-made man. He has donated resources to the poor across the country and touched lives,” Mahlangu said.
“We thought it was unwarranted. There was no proof offered. We therefore felt it was inappropriate . We felt (Malema) stooped too low and didn’t substantiate his claims,” he added.
Asked about his response to the EFF’s tweet alleging that Sanco is too small to be relevant, Mahlangu said the tweet is “typical of their rhetoric. It’s not the size of the party that matters, it’s the content of your argument. It should come down to the substance of what you are saying, not how loud you say it.”
Mahlangu added that he does not think filling stadiums means that you are a powerful party.
“Not everyone who fills stadiums registers to vote. Some parties will say there are irregularities in the voting process when they fail to do well in elections after filling stadiums, but the truth is filling stadiums does not always mean doing well at the polls.”