Trouble in paradise: Senior ANC bosses threaten a revolt as Ramaphosa wants 23 officials 'fired'

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Top ANC leaders are threatening a revolt against the party’s integrity commission, after President Cyril Ramaphosa told leaders the commission wanted 23 senior figures to decline public office.

The commission’s findings have provoked a furious backlash in the party, which is still digesting changes Ramaphosa made to his cabinet on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa on Wednesday dropped several top ANC figures from his executive, following a delay in the cabinet announcement caused by Deputy President David Mabuza meeting the commission earlier to “clear his name”.

Although Ramaphosa did not indicate in his address to the NEC on Friday whether he backed the commission’s findings, its initial report has angered some in the party.

Secretary-general Ace Magashule told reporters yesterday that the commission was working on a final report to be discussed at the next meeting of the national executive committee (NEC).

The NEC, which is the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences, has been meeting in Pretoria since Friday.

Yesterday they were joined by the party’s deployees, among them ministers and top government officials. The meeting is due to end tomorrow.

Magashule said the integrity report was a “work in progress”.

“The president’s input is the president’s input. There is no resolution or anything on the integrity commission,” he said.

He said the commission had yet to formally table its report to the NEC.

An ANC insider close to Magashule said while they are expecting resignations, “it will not be on principle”.

“People are going to resign, [from parliament] but for other reasons, [for pensions, redeployment and factions], not because the integrity commission said they must resign,” he said.

Some party bigwigs named in the report are threatening a revolt unless the commission withdraws its findings, and some want it to be disbanded in its entirety.

The new development comes after the integrity commission met those it has named in its report, foremost among them Mabuza. Its recommendation that top figures stand down has sent shock waves through the party, especially as those named were under the impression they had been cleared.

The Sunday Times understands that the commission did not find evidence of wrongdoing against some of the leaders after interviewing them.

It is understood that Ramaphosa told NEC members about the recommendations, but a full discussion on the matter was delayed to a later special NEC meeting.

Some of them accused the integrity commission, which comprises “elders”, of “playing into the hands of ANC factional politics”.

The commission was established in 2013 to protect the party’s image but its recommendations are not binding as the 2017 ANC national conference failed to give it more teeth. The terms of reference of the commission are yet to be finalised by the party.

This could make it easier for those implicated to dismiss the commission’s findings.

One of those implicated, Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) president Kebby Maphatsoe, confirmed that the commission had recommended that those flagged step aside.

Several of those who appeared before the George Mashamba-chaired commission complained that the ANC elders could not provide any evidence linking them to wrongdoing, and could cite only news reports.

Maphatsoe told the Sunday Times he was livid after the commission asked him questions related to his days in exile.

“I am very angry. I appeared before the integrity committee because of factional politics. And then when I got there they asked me how I lost my arm. They were asking me about stuff that happened in exile,” he told the Sunday Times yesterday.

Maphatsoe appeared before the integrity committee last Tuesday and was among those told to resign from their positions.

“The allegations are about my struggle credentials and the allegations that I ran away from the camp. I already answered those questions. These people are pushing me too far.”

He said he was referred to the integrity commission by Thabang Makwetla — who is part of the MK National Council, a splinter of the Jacob Zuma-supporting MKMVA — for bringing the ANC into disrepute.

“Who is Thabang Makwetla? He has his own issues with Bosasa and we didn’t say anything,” Maphatsoe said.

“I felt very bad. They said the military veterans department collapsed under me and that’s why the minister revoked my delegation. It’s not true. My plan was never implemented,” he said.

Another leader, who asked not to be named, said there would be a revolt against the report at the next NEC meeting.

He questioned how the party chose the 23 names, instead of subjecting all those on the ANC list to parliament to the process.

“There are people who are not on that list who are accused of worse things. Some were appointed to the cabinet,” he said.

A Ramaphosa ally said he suspected that the commission’s report would eventually be shot down by both sides of the factional divide because of apparent inconsistencies.

The Sunday Times understands that when former state security minister Bongani Bongo appeared before the commission, he expected to be quizzed about allegations that he had tried to bribe the former Eskom inquiry evidence leader, advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara.

However, he was grilled about a land deal in Mpumalanga in which it is alleged he received a kickback when he was in the employ of the provincial government.

The elders were in possession of media reports — but no further evidence was furnished.

Insiders said Bongo was also asked if he was part of any faction within the ANC.

It was a similar case for ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa.

In a statement issued on Friday evening, Magashule said the special NEC held on Friday received a briefing on the engagements and reports of the integrity commission.

“The special NEC held a preliminary discussion on these matters and agreed to take these discussions forward in the next meeting of the NEC,” he said.

“The NEC was satisfied that the integrity commission met with everyone and accept that this is work in progress.”

Committee chair Mashamba declined to comment. “Speak to the ANC. They are the ones who can tell you,” he said.

Mashamba would also not comment on claims that the integrity committee “played into the hands of ANC factional politics”.

Cedric Frolic, who was on the list of those flagged because he was implicated in the Bosasa scandal, said he had yet to meet with the integrity commission.

Another on the list, former Gauteng human settlements MEC Humphrey Mmemezi, said he did not know that he was on the radar of the integrity commission.

Among those dropped were the women’s league’s Dlamini.

Ramaphosa managed to install his closest allies in strategic positions in the economic cluster and the crime and justice cluster. Tito Mboweni was retained in finance, and Gwede Mantashe took control of the merged mineral resources & energy ministry. Bheki Cele and former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola will look after the police and justice portfolios, respectively.

Ramaphosa’s detractors complained that his opponents were not accommodated in the cabinet, but got only deputy posts.

Insiders in Ramaphosa’s inner circle said the biggest fallout from his cabinet appointments was the perceived “demotion” of Lindiwe Sisulu from international relations to housing, water & sanitation.

“She was really upset. She did not expect it but the president himself said she can’t be in international relations any more,” the insider said.

The exclusion of ANC veteran Jeff Radebe shocked the long-serving minister, sources said. He found out when Ramaphosa called him just before he announced his cabinet to tell him he had not made the cut.

“He didn’t take it well at all. He really didn’t see it coming. But if you are a minister for 25 years you can’t expect to come back,” the insider said.

Long-serving minister Derek Hanekom was told by Ramaphosa that he soon would be redeployed to another position.

The president’s decision to leave out an ally, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, who served as intelligence minister for less than 18 months, also came as a shock to some.

Insiders said it was not Ramaphosa’s decision alone to include former intelligence minister David Mahlobo as deputy minister for housing, water & sanitation.

Mahlobo’s return was as a result of a push from Mabuza, who claimed Mahlobo’s skills as a BSc graduate and a former departmental head of water in Mpumalanga should be put to use.

The president was told early on in his consultation with the ANC’s alliance partners that Ebrahim Patel was a “non-negotiable” appointee as minister of trade, industry & economic development.

The SACP also insisted that its general secretary, Blade Nzimande, return to higher education alongside former Young Communist League head Buti Manamela.

The pair served in this position under Zuma until they were reshuffled.

However, some concerns were raised over Nzimande’s history as minister and his role during the #FeesMustFall protests.

Ramaphosa also used positions in his executive to reward those who were actively part of his campaign.

The minister of small business, Khumbodzo Ntshaveni, headed Ramaphosa’s campaign to be ANC president in Limpopo. Her appointment was seen as a “reward”.

Despite insisting that he wanted to cut at least half of the deputy minister positions, Ramaphosa gave in to his colleagues in the party top six to name 34 deputy ministers.

“He was saying deputy ministers don’t do anything but then they had all of these people that needed to be considered, and then he agreed,” a second source said.

– Sunday Times


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