In an affidavit, he rubbishes claims that the party was formed to contest the May elections or that it was meant to be a mouthpiece of an ANC faction
African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader, Vuyolwethu Zungula, has thrown his weight behind ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and filed a supporting affidavit in the latter’s R500 000 defamation case against former general secretary of the SA Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC), Buyisile Ngqulwana.
Ngqulwana made submissions to the Electoral Court earlier this year in which he accused Magashule and other disgruntled ANC members “who had supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma leading up to the party’s 54th elective conference” of having had a hand in the formation of a rival opposition party, the ATM.
This led to Magashule filing a defamation case against him in August.
The ATM was cited as the second respondent in the matter, even though no damages were sought from the party.
Last week Zungula filed supporting papers in which he distanced himself and his party from the claims made by Ngqulwana who, leading up to the May 8 elections, was tasked by the SACMCC, together with Zungula, to register a political party which would function as the council’s mouthpiece, leading to the formation of the ATM.
Speaking to City Press last week, the ATM leader vehemently denied there was any ANC leader involved in the formation of his party.
He insisted that the party was never used as anyone’s mouthpiece.
READ: Ace Magashule’s hand in ATM
He also rubbished claims contained in Ngqulwana’s responding affidavit in which he said the ATM was never meant to participate in the elections but was merely formed to eat into the ANC’s support base.
“It is clear from this background [contained in his affidavit] that the suggestion by the first respondent [Ngqulwana] to say the ATM was not meant to contest elections is a blatant lie. With respect, I view the first respondent as now being deliberately set on a path – triggered by some unknown event – to disrupt if not destroy the ATM using unlawful means,” said Zungula.
Magashule’s defamation case against Ngqulwana got another boost as another former co-conspirator of Ngqulwana’s, Daluxolo Hoho, also came out in defence of the ANC secretary general. Hoho was both a member of the SACMCC and Ngqulwana’s own church, the Ntsikane Church.
In an affidavit filed with the SA Human Rights Commission on July 23, Hoho accuses Ngqulwana of manipulating both sides of the ANC functions – those who endorsed Dlamini-Zuma for the ANC presidency in 2017 and those who supported Cyril Ramaphosa.
Hoho claims in his affidavit that just under a month before the May 8 national and provincial elections, he and a delegation of SACMCC leaders met Ramaphosa, ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula, ANC member of Parliament Dumisani Ximbi and former minister of community safety in the Western Cape Leonard Ramatlakane “at a hotel in Port Elizabeth”.
He claims that Ngqulwana led the SACMCC delegation, which solicited R700 000 from Ximbi and Ramatlakane at this meeting.
“I am very concerned with this investigation that the ANC claims to be doing on Ace Magashule ... Apostle Buyisile Ngqulwana was given R700 000 by Ximbi and Ramatlakane before the May elections, the purpose was to destroy the ATM and he did that ... Isn’t that enough punishment on Magashule?”
“Apostle Ngqulwana is in the money-making game here ... He wanted money from the ANC to form the ATM and later wanted money from the same ANC to destroy the same ATM he wanted to be funded to form ... What is that called? “I have been working very close with Apostle Ngqulwana, such that I was part of those people he went with to meet with the ANC president Baba Ramaphosa in a hotel in Port Elizabeth on April 14 before the May elections,” Hoho said.
A picture of Ramaphosa, Hoho and Ngqulwana has been widely circulated online.
Hoho told City Press that the photograph was taken on the day in question, following the meeting in Port Elizabeth.
The presidency has denied any involvement.
Head of the presidency Sibongile Besani declined to comment on whether Ramaphosa met the SACMCC delegation or not.
Instead she said: “A commission has been set up by the governing party to ascertain if there are any ANC members who had a hand in the formation of the ATM.
“These allegations [by Hoho] fall under the scope of this commission and should be directed to the commission,” said Besani.
Ximbi and Ramatlakane told City Press that they never met either Ngqulwana or Hoho and denied giving money to the former. Ngqulwana described Hoho as an aggrieved “liar who has a score to settle”.
Hoho’s allegations have, however, shift the narrative.
Initially former president Jacob Zuma, Magashule and other ANC members who backed Dlamini-Zuma leading up to the Nasrec elective conference were seen as protagonists in the formation of the ATM.
His claims are now implicating a whole host of other players in the Ramaphosa faction as having been vested in the formation of the rival party.