Supporters of ANC Youth League presidential hopeful Reggie Nkabinde belive that Thanduxolo Sabelo’s alleged presence at a meeting with former president Jacob Zuma has tipped the scales in their favour.
Sabelo and Nkabinde will face off next month for the top job, should the much anticipated youth league conference finally go ahead.
A member of the league’s national executive committee, Ndumiso Mokako, who appears on the same slate as Sabelo and is tipped for the position of secretary-general, admitted this week that he had fielded a number of calls around Sabelo’s involvement in the alleged plan to oust ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Sabelo vehemently denied being at the meeting and has vowed to seek legal recourse, because he felt the allegations were intended to have an influence on the outcomes of the youth league conference which takes place next month.
Mokako, who joined forces with Sabelo, could be collateral damage following reports of the meeting, especially because he abandoned his own presidential ambitions to make way for the KwaZulu-Natal youth league provincial secretary.
“People are concerned, it is a concern for everyone. Whether people support us or not, to any member of the ANC it is a concern that there could have been a meeting that sought to disrupt the ANC in this serious manner. But as comrades call to ask, I am unfortunately limited to what Mr Sabelo has said to me. All I can relay to those who call is what he has told me. I can’t run away from the fact that comrades are concerned, they do call and ask,” Mokako said.
“I spoke to comrade Thanduxolo on Sunday about this matter and he gave me the same version of events which he gave in the statement he released on the day. He said he was not part of any meeting – he was greeting the leadership. I can’t confirm or deny that, because I was not in Durban on that day, I was in Gauteng.
“I have no reason to not believe him. If he was charged by a competent state authority for something of that nature I would then say there is some truth to it, but it is just journalists [making the claims].”
Mokako said that the allegation that Sabelo was present at the meeting had not done any harm to their campaign and that he had no plans to ditch the provincial secretary and go it alone.
He warned against casting aspersions on meetings of people who had personal relationships.
“If he was part of the meeting I would really want to know what the discussion was about. But we must also be careful not to restrict people’s personal relationships as we deal with this matter.
“What makes the matter serious is that there is an allegation that there was a plot to remove the president of the ANC and of the country, but over and above that everyone is free to meet anyone they want to meet. We must rather be interested in the content of the discussions. Who you met for me is immaterial, what matters is: did you go to a meeting planning to disrupt the ANC by removing or toppling the president? In that case, we have a problem.”
Nkabinde told City Press this week that he did not have a view on whether or not the meeting took place and what was discussed. However, he did say that the media constantly sought to “divide” the ANC.
His lobbyists, however, told City Press that the perception alone that Sabelo was involved gave them a much needed advantage. Nkabinde, who has been speaking out against so-called “bishops”, (handlers) of the ANC Youth League, is said to have been vindicated.
Mokako also went to bat for youth league president Collen Maine, saying that rumours that he was working to prevent the upcoming elective conference from sitting were just “malicious gossip”. The postponement of the conference was due to a lack of readiness both “politically and organisationally”, and not because Maine was holding on in the hope of being called up to serve in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet next year, he said.