Gwede sniffs out Cope moles

The ANC is tightening its grip on members suspected of working underground for the opposition, in particular the Congress of the People.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe wrote a letter to all provincial secretaries this week urging them to implement the December national executive committee (NEC) decision to ‘deal with ANC members who work for other parties from within the ANC structures”, and calling on members to provide evidence of alleged underground activities of fellow members.

The Mail & Guardian is in possession of a letter dated February 3 urging provincial secretaries to ‘kindly effect this decision”. The letter reiterates that ANC members who stand as independent candidates in elections against ANC candidates are assumed to have expelled themselves.

Mantashe’s letter has been interpreted in some quarters as an invitation to a witch-hunt.

An NEC member said there were concerns that Mantashe’s mandate would be used to deal with ‘obvious suspects” who supported former president Thabo Mbeki, such as former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, whom Mantashe has said is known to be working underground for Cope.

ANC provincial secretaries were unable to specify what kind of evidence would be acceptable to prove that an ANC member is a Cope mole. But they said disciplinary action would be carefully managed to avoid ‘unnecessary suspicions and victimisation” of innocent people.

‘We’re not going to expel our comrades willy-nilly,” said Mpumalanga secretary Lucky Ndinisa. Gauteng’s David Makhura said the order is unlikely to be used to purge people. ‘We won’t embark on a witch-hunt; there’s no incentive for an ANC member to work for another party.”

North West secretary Supra Mahumapelo said the instruction would help the provincial ANC deal with ‘genuine cases”. ‘It emphasises the need to respect the ANC and its constitution, especially during elections,” said Mahumapelo. ‘We hope members aren’t going to use this opportunity to settle scores.”

KwaZulu-Natal secretary Senzo Mchunu had not seen the letter and would not comment. But he said the province supported action against any ANC member working with opposition parties.

The NEC discussed the issue of ANC members working underground for Cope at two meetings, in October and December last year. It decided that the ANC should try to retain members planning to defect and convince defectors to come back.

One of those the ANC has been trying to convince to return is leading Northern Cape Cope member Neville Mompati. ‘Provincial ANC leaders approached me in December and early January to come back and play a role in government,” said Mompati, who denied reports that he has agreed to rejoin. ‘They do this so that people lose hope in Cope.”

Cope won two former ANC wards in Upington and Groblershoop in by-elections last week. 

Additional reporting by Mandy Rossouw

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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