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Deputy president Mabuza asks: Why pick on me?

2019-04-29 00:00

Mabuza says he is ready to quit if convincing reasons are given

Deputy President David Mabuza says he is curious to find out why the ANC integrity commission “singled out” 22 people, including himself, on the party’s elections list for an ethics interview.

Speaking to City Press, Mabuza said that if the commission’s reasons were strong, he would be prepared to withdraw his name from the elections list as he believes no one should resist a convincing argument.

Mabuza, who is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second-in-command in the ANC and the state, was among 22 parliamentary candidates flagged by the integrity commission as being questionable.

The commission was established after the 2012 Mangaung conference to protect the ANC’s image “by ensuring ... that urgent action is taken to deal with public officials, leaders and members of the ANC who face damaging allegations of improper conduct”.

The commission, which is made up of respected ANC veterans, has handed over the report to the party’s top six, but it is likely to be processed only after the May 8 general election.

ANC FACES ELECTION SETBACKS

With just over a week to go before election day next Wednesday, the latest Ipsos poll shows support for the governing ANC dropping to 56.92% from the 62.15% result it garnered in the 2014 elections.

The DA could drop dramatically to 15% from the 22% it obtained in 2014.

According to the poll, support for the EFF could grow from the 6% it scored in the last elections to 9.45%. Support for the Inkatha Freedom Party is also projected to grow from 2.44% to 3%.

However, a poor turnout on election day could substantially benefit the ANC, whose support could go as high as 61%, while the DA would increase its result to 19% and the EFF would climb to 11%.

The Ipsos study was conducted between March and April with 3 600 respondents.

The Ipsos poll also found that trust in the ANC had jumped from 11% in November 2017 to the current 29%. Lack of trust in the DA and EFF deepened in the same period.

Ramaphosa remains the most trusted leader compared with DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF head Julius Malema for all registered voters.

At plus-40% confidence, Ramaphosa contrasts sharply with Malema at minus 44% and Maimane at minus 37%.

South African voters have told Ipsos that finding a job is their most important concern. Living conditions, the economy, safety, corruption and education also rank high.

MABUZA WON’T DEFY COMMISSION

City Press has learnt that, in its report, the integrity commission raised the question of credibility and harming the reputation of the ANC as the main reasons it recommended controversial candidates be removed from the ANC list.

Other names believed to be on the list include Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini, Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.

Mabuza is number 22 on the ANC’s elections list and is almost certain to return as the country’s deputy president when Ramaphosa announces the new Cabinet at the end of May, in the event of an ANC win.

Speaking to City Press while campaigning in Bophelong in the Vaal, Mabuza, who rarely grants interviews, said the ANC’s ethics monitoring body had “singled out a few comrades to say they want to interview those comrades, and on the basis of that interview, probably they will make their own conclusions”.

“The ANC is going to discuss that list,” he said.

“I am sure it will make its views known to say what is its collective response. I do not think there is anyone who is really insisting to be on the list, as long as they [the commission] explain why they are making certain assertions.”

On Friday, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the commission must be allowed to do its work.

“I cannot comment about the commission, which we have established ourselves as the ANC. Let’s give them their space. Of course, they are accountable to the national executive committee,” he said during a campaign trail in Ikageng township, Potchefstroom, in North West.

‘INFIGHTING KILLING ANC’

Mabuza, who went around preaching the gospel of unity in the ANC in the run-up to the hotly contested December 2017 elective conference in Nasrec, sounded alarm bells about divisions in the party.

He warned that the ANC was on the verge of dying because of continued infighting.

The former chairperson and premier of Mpumalanga said: “The internal fighting in the movement is threatening the life of the ANC, and that should be dealt with. When I was in Mpumalanga I explained why the ANC’s unity is important.

“I spoke about Polokwane and Mangaung conference differences, and I told people that if we go and do the same now in Nasrec, the ANC will die. I called a meeting of five chairpersons of provinces. You still remember?”

He went on to sound this warning: “If we do not come together as the ANC, why should we ask people to vote for us?”

Mabuza said his unity intervention at Nasrec, which ensured that neither Ramaphosa’s nor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s factions came out as outright victors, had saved the ANC from certain death.

He now believes that the demons of disunity are back.

“Every day in the news you hear about us. We are fighting and we are going to courts. It hurts the ANC. Someone from the ANC is saying something about the other.”

He said his message to the governing party was: “Get your house in order. If you do not do that, you run the risk of killing this ANC.”

However, Mabuza vowed that he would continue to fight for the unity of the ANC whether or not he remained the country’s deputy president.

“I am going to work for the unity of this movement, therefore I cannot work alone. I am not supposed to be the only one who preaches unity.

“I was a lone voice. People today don’t even understand what happened at Nasrec. They cannot explain.”

Citing the conclusions of the integrity commission’s report, Mabuza’s sympathisers believe that there is a plot to remove him after the May election.

Unlike Mabuza, Magashule has downplayed talk of rifts posing a mortal threat to the ANC.

“Leaders will come and go. Those who are fighting will, at some stage, have to leave the organisation if they cannot actually abide by the principles and traditions and the culture of the ANC,” said Magashule.

He insisted that there was no way the ANC “can die in our hands”.

Instead, he said, ill-disciplined leaders would leave the organisation.

“It [the ANC] is not about us. It is not about those who are happy or not happy. If leaders fail to protect this organisation, ordinary members of the ANC will protect this organisation. It cannot die because it is us.”

COMMISSIONS MAY HARM ANC UNITY

Mabuza expressed concern that the commissions of inquiry that have been probing issues such as state capture and the abuse of public institutions could further divide the ANC.

“Police are going to arrest people; this can separate us. But there is no turning back because we are saying that the law should be exercised equally to everyone. No one is above the law. If Dlamini-Zuma supporters or Ramaphosa supporters are found guilty, then we are divided; but let’s take the commitment to unite the ANC.”

Mabuza also dismissed continued talk among party members that attempts could be made to oust Ramaphosa at the party’s national general council mid-term review next year.

“No. He will not leave, he is here. Dlamini-Zuma will not leave. Ace is here. You see this may not sit well, but they remain united.”

Mabuza said that if the internal conflicts continued, he would “put people who are fighting in one house, and say: ‘Be united here and leave united.’ There is no winner takes all; the ANC will win.”

He said unity had been an ongoing effort since the ANC’s inception. “We fought tribalism and ethnicity. We fought all sort of demons within the ANC.”

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September 15 2019