Deputy President David Mabuza’s surprise withdrawal from Parliament this morning follows a slew of big names dropping off the ANC’s Parliament list.
Others are Baleka Mbete and Malusi Gigaba.
The ANC has 230 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.
Just before the elections, the ANC integrity commission “singled out” 22 people on the party’s elections list for an ethics interview.
Mabuza, who was President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second-in-command in the ANC and the state, was among the parliamentary candidates flagged by the integrity commission as being questionable.
Speaking to City Press a few weeks ago, Mabuza said that if the commission’s reasons were strong, he would be prepared to withdraw his name from the list because he believes no one should resist a convincing argument.
City Press 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, who was named as the ANC’s chair of chairs, and former home affairs minister Gigaba, who dropped out of the running yesterday.
The integrity 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”.
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.”
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 believed that there was a plot to remove him after the May election.
Unlike Mabuza, Magashule had 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.”