News / South Africa / Politics

Asanda Matlhare
Intern Journalist
3 minute read
18 Oct 2021
6:09 am

Aggrieved ANC employees believe public protector will save them

Asanda Matlhare

The troubled ruling party is facing an onslaught from both within its ranks and an increasingly disenchanted society outside it.

January 28 2020 Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane during the press conference at her offices in Pretoria. PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, and “aggrieved” ANC staff members will be filing an official complaint with the public protector today, and ongoing internal strife could have long-term effects for the party, experts warn.

The complaint concerns the alleged failure of government agencies responsible for regulating the Provident Fund and tax payments.

Political analyst Levy Ndou said the filing of the complaint would not have an impact in the upcoming local government elections.

“This is a matter at national level, which has nothing to do with local government elections [although] there can be a certain percentage that says the ANC is not able to meet its own obligations as a political party. The ANC should have prioritised paying staff salaries,” he said.

However, the ANC did have reason to worry about the national elections, Ndou said. In 2019, the ANC won the general elections with 58% of the vote, compared to 2004 with nearly 70%.

“The party should be worried, especially about its senior leaders implicated in wrongdoing.

“One of the reasons the ANC declined was because of the scandals associated with the party, which included Nkandla, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s Sarafina saga and Ace Magashule’s appearances in court, among many recent ones which have caused a huge dent to the party,” Ndou said. 

“The ANC is continuing to support people who are implicated in wrongdoing and mobilising people to support people appearing in court for wrongdoing,” he said.

Political economy analyst Daniel Silke said Niehaus and other staff members who had complaints with the ANC saw the ruling party as the only real power broker in South Africa.

“In fact, their view is that they remain members of the ANC and are not disloyal to the party and would ultimately like to shift the ANC to their way of thinking.

“As long as it remains the predominant party and the party of liberation, those who are alienated from the party internally still see it as the only vehicle for change and would like to mould the ANC into their way of thinking – and I think Niehaus and Magashule represent that, so there is no real room for them to leave or start any other political party of their own,” he said.

Silke added that within the party this created dissatisfaction, disgruntlement and irritation with these individuals and enhanced factionalism.

“In the end, this will push the national ANC vote down. The ruling party votes may come very close to 50% in this election.

“We are at the beginnings of a much more diverse and diffused political system, where the party of liberation no longer automatically will receive 50% plus of the votes. Infighting, disagreements and personality clashes will contribute to an incremental weakening of the ANC,” he said.

The aggrieved employees formally laid criminal charges of theft, fraud and corruption, among other alleged crimes, against the national executive committee.

“We have had advanced engagement with the management of the ANC, but unfortunately we did not get any reprieve or any response that was adequate,” Niehaus said. “We therefore eventually decided we have reached the end of that road and now have to go the legal road,” said Niehaus.

The former spokesperson for the ruling party said although he and the staff had faith in the police, government agencies had failed to carry out their duties and that fell squarely within the purview of the public protector, who had a duty to investigate such matters.

“The issue with regards to the criminal action of the ANC was laid with the police,” Niehaus said. “There is a second issue regarding government agencies.

“It is very strange that these government agencies, having been aware that such criminal acts have been committed in terms of their fiduciary duty, did not take up the matter with the ANC and did not themselves lay charges against the ANC with the police,” he noted.