Malema's war: Lifestyle, plot and intrigue
Senior members of the African National Congress’s national executive committee (NEC) have taken youth league president Julius Malema’s “intelligence document” so seriously that some have asked that the spotlight be turned on the ANC leaders who they believe are using state resources for political ends.
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An NEC member told the Mail & Guardian this week that the national leadership has instructed the party’s top six officials to investigate allegations that some people in the party, perceived to be loyal Zuma supporters, have been unfairly targeted to have their lifestyles audited.
NEC member Billy Masetlha confirmed that the party was investigating a secret intelligence document, with the names of people to be targeted for political gains, but he could not confirm that it was the same document that Malema referred to this week.
Malema claimed in a series of media interviews this week that he had a document allegedly drafted by former officials of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) at the request of some senior ANC figures.
He said the document sought to discredit some party leaders by questioning their income, the affordability of their lifestyle and their ownership of assets.
He was defending himself against allegations that he used his political muscle to secure government tenders for companies that he had interests in.
Sars this week denied that it had targeted people on political grounds, but a former Sars employee, Michael Peega, told the media he was part of the secret intelligence unit and had worked on the compilation of the document.
The document lists 11 prominent names: seven leaders of the ANC and four business people who are known to be staunch Zuma supporters.
But it does not feature the names of any of the ruling party’s allies on the left, most notably South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande and Congress of South African Trade Unions head Zwelinzima Vavi, two of Zuma’s vocal supporters.
The M&G understands that Malema, who is among those listed, raised the issue of the report at Monday’s national working committee meeting, where the majority of the committee members disagreed that a lifestyle audit should be conducted.
Masetlha said although he was not opposed to lifestyle audits, he was worried that this one targeted only a few individuals.
He said the document had been in existence since 2007, the year that the ruling party went through the bruising succession battle that brought Zuma to power.
“It [the political agenda] is driven by people who are aggrieved. It is part of a bigger game,” said Masetlha.
“Information has been coming to us that even foreign agencies are involved.”
‘If this is done for political reasons, it is wrong’
An NEC member who is also a Cabinet minister told the M&G that using state resources to fight political battles was “a shame”. He raised fears of a repeat of the tension that preceded the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference. “If people want to go to the [former state president Thabo] Mbeki era, we [the ANC] are in trouble,” he said.
“Anyone who uses state machinery to fight political battles should be investigated. People should fight their [own] battles and win them.”
He said auditing lifestyles should apply to everyone in a fair manner. “No one is exempted from lifestyle [audits]. If this is done for political reasons, it is wrong — it compromises the integrity of our institutions.”
A Luthuli House insider told the M&G that Zuma was awaiting a briefing from state law enforcement institutions on the document.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu did not respond to the M&G‘s questions about the use of state institutions to fight party battles as well as the status of an ANC investigation into the document.