Sports min­is­ter is ac­tive on a What­sApp group de­cry­ing those ANC lead­ers seen to be anti-Zuma

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­

Sport and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Fikile Mbalula has launched a scathing at­tack on ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral (SG) Gwede Man­tashe, la­belling him a snitch and say­ing he could no longer be trusted be­cause he col­luded with the op­po­si­tion. In a se­ries of What­sApp mes­sages to in­di­vid­u­als loyal to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, co­or­di­nated by the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son, Ed­ward, Mbalula ex­pressed how he had lost all re­spect for Man­tashe.

Mbalula added that the ANC did not need lead­ers like him.

The What­sApp group in­cludes some ANC lead­ers and mem­bers, lawyers, in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives and state-owned com­pany of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing SAA chair­per­son Dudu Myeni.

City Press un­der­stands it was cre­ated with the pri­mary in­ten­tion of de­fend­ing Zuma’s pres­i­dency.

“I have al­ways held the view that there are some among us who are de­brief­ing the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF),” wrote Mbalula. “Malema ex­posed Gwede badly. Snitch,” he added. Out of all the mem­bers of the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC), Mbalula ap­peared to be the only ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the What­sApp group.

He con­tin­ued to com­plain that Man­tashe had low­ered his guard and com­pro­mised his of­fice.

“This man is the cus­to­dian of all se­crets, the bearer of good and bad news.

“You would ex­pect the rank and file to en­gage or [be] im­pli­cated in such ac­tions, not the SG.”

Mbalula was re­fer­ring to a City Press re­port about al­le­ga­tions that Man­tashe “pleaded” with EFF leader Julius Malema to help him scup­per Zuma’s Gup­talinked nu­clear plans when they met pri­vately to dis­cuss mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion coali­tions.

Malema made the rev­e­la­tions un­der oath in an in­ter­view with then pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela.

Man­tashe has flatly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, whereas Malema stands by what he told Madon­sela.

But Mbalula, whose am­bi­tions for the po­si­tion Man­tashe oc­cu­pies were thwarted in the ANC’s Man­gaung con­fer­ence, held in De­cem­ber 2012, was scathing: “This is more than snitch­ing. He must come clean ... I’ve lost re­spect for this com­rade as my SG, hon­estly.

“He was ad­vis­ing our op­po­nents. The ANC can’t be led by peo­ple like this.”

But he was quickly warned by an­other par­tic­i­pant that he could not ask a snake to ex­plain why it bit him.

“It’s who he is. You have got to deal with that snake ac­cord­ingly,” he charged. Mbalula agreed. But he did not end there. Mbalula ex­tended his crit­i­cism against “un­de­serv­ing lead­ers” to ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu, who re­cently made pub­lic calls for all NEC mem­bers – in­clud­ing Zuma – to step down.

Mbalula was ag­grieved that Mthembu and other lead­ers voiced their dis­plea­sure at how the ANC, un­der Zuma’s lead­er­ship, han­dled the is­sue of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, who faced what were deemed po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated charges by the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity.

The other lead­ers in­cluded Enoch Godong­wana, Aaron Mot­soaledi and Joe Phaahla.

“The ANC NEC mem­bers who speak out of turn at­tack­ing the lead­er­ship; [it’s] time we must deal with this,” wrote Mbalula.

“The DA was mak­ing a mock­ery of them in that non­sense de­bate,” he added, re­fer­ring to the DA’s mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against Zuma, de­bated in Par­lia­ment last week.

On Fri­day, Mbalula de­nied be­ing a par­tic­i­pant in the group, de­spite City Press hav­ing ver­i­fied his num­ber.

“There are many in­for­ma­tion ped­lars. Ver­ify be­fore you take in­for­ma­tion ped­lars se­ri­ously,” he said.

The What­sApp group was ac­ti­vated in the first week of November as a cloud hung over Zuma, who was an im­pli­cated party in the State of Cap­ture re­port, which was re­leased on November 2.

Ed­ward Zuma said he was not co­or­di­nat­ing the group to de­fend the pres­i­dent as an in­di­vid­ual, but rather, the ANC.

“Do not re­duce the group to an in­di­vid­ual. It is in de­fence of the ANC and its lead­er­ship,” he said.

“If the lead­er­ship is led by the pres­i­dent, then we are de­fend­ing it.”

He added: “In the group, we have mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, min­is­ters ...

“They are there as in­di­vid­u­als. We deal with is­sues in our ca­pac­ity as pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als.”

Ed­ward Zuma ON­LINE BACKCHAT What­sApp mes­sages from Sport and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter Fikile Mbalula, and co­or­di­nated by the pres­i­dent’s son Ed­ward Zuma, do the rounds in a pro-Zuma sup­port group

Fikile Mbalula

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