Johannesburg – The ANC has slammed the intensifying factional tensions among its leaders in the aftermath of the elections, saying they were undermining the organisation’s efforts to unite.
This comes after the party’s internal rifts spiralled into open warfare on social media as senior leaders questioned controversial ANC veteran Carl Niehaus’s employment at Luthuli House by secretary-general Ace Magashule.
On Wednesday, ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula took to social media asking Niehaus – a staunch supporter of Magashule – what he was doing at the party’s headquarters.
“You are a crook, what the hell you doing at Luthuli House is still a mystery to us now that we are done with elections we must deal with you,” he tweeted.
Mbalula’s remarks came after Niehaus complained about being blocked by Mbalula on Twitter. Mbalula had accused Magashule of being behind the remarks by the Free State ANC Youth League which called for political intervention in Gauteng for its bad performance at the elections.
Niehaus had written: “Hmmm so this young chap, Mr Fearfo**** , has gone & blocked me. He seems to fear much, especially engagement about his blatant opportunism, careerism & lack of respect for his seniors, such as the SG of the ANC, comrade @Magashule_Ace. Talk about real cowardice.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe slammed the party’s senior leaders for being involved in a public spat.
“The leadership of the ANC has spoken about the need for maximum unity during this period and encouraged all of our cadres to do everything in our powers to make sure that we assert that unity. If there are issues that ought to be deliberated upon in the ANC, there are sufficient forums and platforms within the organisation to attend to them,” he said.
Mabe said both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Magashule had spoken out on the need for unity within the party, which remained divided between those who associated with Ramaphosa and those who were behind Magashule.
Mbalula and Magashule have been involved in a public feud with Ramaphosa’s influence in the ANC’s elections campaign, which saw the party securing 57%, down from 62% in the 2014 general elections.
Mbalula credited Ramaphosa with the victory, saying the ANC would have secured less than 40% had Ramaphosa not won the presidency at the party’s hotly contested Nasrec conference in 2017.
Magashule’s has, however, rejected Mbalula’s claim, arguing that people had voted for the ANC, not Ramaphosa. Tourism Minister and national executive member Derek Hanekom also joined in, asking Niehaus about his controversial past where he admittedly defrauded people.
“Carl, let’s rather talk about the money you took from people with your story about having bone marrow cancer.
“A deputy minister even went to the funeral of your mother, only to discover that she was still alive,” he said.
Hanekom and Mbalula had not responded by the time of going to print.
Niehaus said he would not explain himself on his past as it was being raised to squash legitimate debate.