Nkandla or Phala Phala, ‘we have a duty to defend’ office of ANC presidency – Gwede Mantashe | News24


  • ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe says the office of the ANC presidency must be protected.
  • Mantashe called out fellow ANC members who were publicly critical of President Cyril Ramaphosa and his implication in a Section 89 report on Phala Phala.
  • Mantashe says the idea of voting with one’s conscience was a foreign idea in the ANC and added members would have to toe the party line when voting on the Section 89 report.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe believes that even amid political scandals, such as the Nkandla and Phala Phala sagas, ANC leaders should protect the office of the ANC presidency from being weakened. 

“Someone asked me why we are defending Phala Phala, as we did with Nkandla. But we are not defending Phala Phala. [Here’s] what we need to do when dealing with these issues. You do not kill the office of the president of the ANC because the ANC will be much weaker. That is why we allow the president to take on any legal review on Phala Phala. That is why when it was Nkandla, we allowed processes to follow. 

“When I went to the area (Nkandla), I came back and said this is a swimming pool and it can be used as a water pool in case of fire because there’s water. But the reality of the matter is that there was nothing called a water pool. But we have a duty to defend that office,” Mantashe told Ekurhuleni regional members at a political lecture on Tuesday night.

READ | Ramaphosa wins crucial NEC debate as parliamentary vote on Phala Phala report delayed by a week

Mantashe also spoke strongly about ANC national executive committee (NEC) members who publicly stated they would not vote according to the party’s instructions on the Section 89 report into allegations against the president, in connection with a burglary at his Phala Phala farm.

He said voting with one’s conscience was a foreign idea in the ANC.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe.

The ANC national chairperson, who has been Ramaphosa’s most ardent supporter in confrontational encounters with fellow members, said such behaviour showed “selfishness, arrogance and egos”. 

Last weekend, the NEC resolved to allow Ramaphosa to review the Section 89 report. It was also decided at the meeting that ANC MPs would vote against the report when Parliament debated it. 

Mantashe said he was shocked to see fellow ANC members say they would not follow the party line. ANC members who were critical of the Phala Phala matter included Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

“In the NEC last weekend, we discussed Phala Phala, and the NEC took a decision. We said the president was taking the report on review, and after we adjourned, I saw a number of our comrades saying: ‘We are not going to toe the line.’

“That would be new because, in the ANC, there is no such thing as conscious voting. You vote according to the decisions of the ANC. If you break the ranks with the ANC, you are ill-disciplined. Once we are divided, everybody will focus on the ANC because the ANC is degenerating and fragmented,” Mantashe said. 

READ | ‘Where’s the president? There’s something I need to tell him’: Mbeki says at chaotic NEC meeting quickly adjourned

He added that public critique of Ramaphosa reflected the state of the organisation. 

Former president Thabo Mbeki has taken the lead among former ANC presidents who have been publicly outspoken on Ramaphosa’s leadership and the Phala Phala matter.

He warned the ANC to prepare for Phala Phala if the independent panel found there was a case for the president to answer.

Mantashe said he told Mbeki to engage with Ramaphosa.

“What we need to address is the question of arrogance and ego. National leaders who are attacking the leader again reflects the state of the organisation. If you take to a public platform and attack the leader, it reflects the organisation. It is not just an innocent action. 

“I have called on the former president to stop criticising the president in public. Go and see him and engage him to talk to him. Over the last weekend, I thought that because comrades had met quietly, I thought that message was beginning to sink in. The free for all in the NEC reflects the state of the organisation,” Mantashe said.

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