Mbalula: They are trying to neutralise me

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. (David Harrison, M&G)

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. (David Harrison, M&G)

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has laid into President Jacob Zuma, labelling him "politically bankrupt" and saying he "thrived on corruption".

In an interview with the Star on Monday, Mbalula slammed assertions he was co-opted by a Zuma-aligned faction within the ANC that was moving to have the president re-elected as head of the ruling party at the upcoming Mangaung elective conference.

"They came to me and offered me a position to neutralise me," Mbalula was quoted as saying. "Now that I am firm, they are trying to spread propaganda. They are lying that our campaign is fading."

Last week Mbalula lashed out at reports he was supporting any faction within the party, saying it was the "desperation of political thugs and their consorts who have elected to subject me to political lynching".

An article by the Sunday Independent last week claimed he would be supporting President Zuma at Mangaung because he was dropped from the Gauteng ANC leadership's list of candidates to be nominated. The Gauteng provincial executive council picked Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to be the next ANC president.

Mbalula was tipped to challenge for the post of secretary general at Mangaung, but his election chances were dealt a blow after only the ANC Youth League and Limpopo nominated him as their choice for the post.

The Star's article further alleged pro-Zuma campaigners offered Mbalula a senior ANC national executive committee (NEC) position or the post of deputy secretary general if he joined the president's camp.

But Mbalula vowed not to do so.

"I have no time for Zuma. He has caused his own problems. He marries every week. He is building a mansion in Nkandla," he added.

The sports minister also said he was still confident of a loss for Zuma at Mangaung.

"They are in for a shock. They realise they can't survive politically. They only survive on the basis of corruption," he added.

When approached for comment about the article on Monday by the Mail & Guardian, Mbalula refused to verify his statements.

"I am dealing with this as we speak. For me this is a non-article," Mbalula said.

Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj also refused to comment on the matter, saying he did not deal with party-political issues.

The ANC is also keeping mum on Mbalula's utterances.

"We will first verify what was allegedly said by comrade Mbalula in that article before we choose to comment on it or not," party spokesperson Keith Khoza told the M&G.

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