ANC wants to suspend Niehaus from his job for attacking a party leader

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Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus.
Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus.
Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus could be suspended from his position in the office of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

Niehaus was informed by letter on Tuesday morning that he will be suspended on full pay unless he showed cause not to be suspended. He will face disciplinary action for his personal attack on ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in a statement on his recovery from Covid-19.

Magashule distanced himself from Niehaus' utterances.

In a letter attached to Niehaus' letter of suspension, written by ANC general manager Febe Potgieter-Gqubule and dated 19 January, Magashule wrote:

I have observed with concern that you are involved in activities that create the impression that you act on instructions from me. Accordingly, I distance myself from any and all activities which cause disunity in my name.

The disciplinary action against Niehaus came five days after he sent out a "personal statement" announcing "his ongoing recovery from Covid-19 pneumonia".

In the statement, he complained that Duarte "saw it fit to attack me… knowing that when she was doing so, I was gravely ill".

In a television interview with eNCA earlier this month, when asked to comment on Niehaus' utterances, Duarte said he was not an elected official of the party but an employee.

ALSO READ | 'People wanted me to die', says Carl Niehaus as he recovers from Covid-19 pneumonia

In the letter informing Niehaus of his planned disciplinary hearing and suspension – on full pay – Potgieter-Gqubule wrote that his statement "crosses all boundaries expected of an ANC employee, and particularly someone of your seniority".

"In particular, the personal attack on the ANC deputy secretary-general in this statement is a serious violation of the ANC Personnel Policy Manual.

"ANC staff members are expected to abide by the discipline of the organisation, and personal attacks by a member of staff on elected leadership – without even attempting to address the matter internally – is unprofessional, is not tolerated and is in violation of the manual."

On 12 October last year, Niehaus was given a written warning about his public utterances.

Potgieter-Gqubule wrote: 

You have been advised on more than one occasion that your public statements and social media posts are unbecoming of someone working in this high office, which has the primary responsibility of driving and coordinating the work of all structures of the ANC.

She wrote that he had 48 hours to show cause "why you should not be suspended on full pay, pending the institution of disciplinary action against you for misconduct".

She added that the party was sorry to hear he had been battling Covid-19, but said his public statement last Thursday was the first the ANC had heard of it. She said it was "rather unfortunate that the first we hear about it is in a media statement".

In his statement, Niehaus alleged that some had wanted to see him die even as he lay ailing in hospital.

He said he preferred to deal with his illness privately and not make it public at the time.

Niehaus, who has remained a staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma, thanked Magashule for his "support, friendship and comradeship".

In November last year, Niehaus publicly supported Magashule at court as he was charged with corruption.

It is not the first time Niehaus falls foul of the ANC. In 2009, he stepped down after it was uncovered that he had allegedly committed fraud and lied about his mother's funeral to avoid debt.

He also allegedly forged the signatures of Gauteng MECs to secure a loan.

Niehaus, at the time, confessed tearfully to these actions.

At the time, his debt was estimated to have amounted to about R4.5 million and it's not clear whether he has settled it.

Niehaus responded to queries over whether he intended to oppose efforts to suspend him by saying he will "not respond to leaked letters. As a disciplined member of the ANC I will not respond whatsoever in public to this letter".

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