Two top ANC national spin-doctors, Brian Sokutu and Ishmael Mnisi, have been hauled before a party disciplinary hearing on charges that include insubordination, absenteeism and renting a car and accommodation in the North West province without following proper organisational procedures.
Sokutu and Mnisi have rejected the charges. ANC communications manager Keith Khoza said the party had relieved Sokutu of his responsibilities, but that Mnisi still worked for the ANC.
ANC sources close to Mnisi and Sokutu believe the two are being targeted to allow Khoza to take over the media liaison role. “These are nothing but flimsy and trumped-up charges by Khoza and ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu,” a source said.
Khoza, who served as chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency, was brought to Luthuli House by Mthembu in November last year to fill the position left vacant by former ANC spokesperson Steyn Speed.
“Since he [Khoza] came to Luthuli, he has been positioning himself to take over the communications [department]. He has been putting them [the communications team] under pressure. He has been making comments in newspapers and TV, even though that does not form part of his responsibilities as communications manager,” said the party source.
The Mail & Guardian understands that at a recent heated meeting, Luthuli House communicators read Khoza the riot act and told him that he must focus on his core responsibilities.
Sokutu confirmed that he and Mnisi had appeared at an internal disciplinary hearing.
“The African National Congress is much bigger than any individual,” said Sokutu. “The likes of Keith Khoza — who harbour ambitions to take control of media liaison within the ANC — will not stop at anything to rubbish my image and that of comrade Ishmael Mnisi to achieve their narrow political ends.
“Since assuming the position of communications manager at the ANC, it has been his mission to get rid of us. — I am appealing my so-called dismissal within the ANC,” said Sokutu.
Said Khoza: “I have been appointed as ANC communications manager and if media liaison does not fall under my core functions or responsibilities, then I do not know what it is. I am disappointed that people are now running outside to discuss an issue that was conducted internally. It is clear they are crying out for sympathy.”