Niehaus: Back in the political game, but not bitter

Carl Niehaus is ready to re-enter active politics should the opportunity within the ANC ever arise, the disgraced former spokesperson for the ruling party told the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday.

“I don’t think of the ANC as a ruling party, I think of it as my family and should the opportunity ever arise I would gladly work for them again,” Niehaus said.

After a three-year silence following the M&G uncovering massive financial mismanagement and a history of racking up bad debt while he was spokesperson for the ANC in the run up to the 2009 general elections, Niehaus spoke to Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday morning.

It was estimated Niehaus had debts totalling R4.5-million.

It was also proved that Niehaus forged signatures of several Gauteng government officials, including the former provincial finance minister Paul Mashatile, when he was chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency in the hopes of securing a personal loan.

He admitted to borrowing money from ANC heavyweights like Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa.

He was also reported to owe R700000 to Rhema Church after vacating his position as chief executive of the organisation and had to settle a R24000 debt with then director general in the presidency, Frank Chikane.

‘Good standing financially’
Currently employed by NGN Telecommunications as a communications consultant, Niehaus claims to be in “good standing financially” and to have either “cleared or made arrangements to clear” any debt in his name; and also confirmed a certain amount of his debt had “expired”.

“I don’t think bad debt, past or present, can preclude a person from public life, but it’s a question of how you managed or plan to manage your situation,” he said.

NGN Telecommunications provides voice and data services to several major telecoms companies including MTN, China Telecoms and South African parastatal Telkom.


While Niehaus contested that he could have been treated “more fairly” by the South African media and general public when the scandal around his debt woes emerged, he holds no grudges.

“I prefer not to live in this quagmire of bitterness but move on with my life and live positively,” he said.

Despite his financial situation ostensibly steadying, Niehaus still claims politics as his “first love” and says he is “constantly in discussion” with the ruling party on how to “make a continuing contribution”.

‘It’s all politics’
“Even when I meet Cyril Ramaphosa with all his business interests, we’ll talk shop for five minutes and then it’s all politics — it’s in my blood,” he said.

According to Niehaus the upcoming ANC elective conference in Mangaung will not offer the “big contestation” that the 2007 Polokwane conference did, as there are no longer “big divisions” within the former liberation movement.

Niehaus added that he would also be supporting President Jacob Zuma should he be seeking re-election.

“I’ve always been known as a supporter of President Zuma and my colours are still firmly nailed to his mast,” he said.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the M&G he did not know of any job offer for Niehaus.

“I don’t know if someone offered him a job, but contracts only become valid when I sign them and I have seen no contracts with comrade Niehaus’s name on it,” Mantashe said.

Nonetheless, Mantashe would not comment on the ruling party’s propensity of redeploying comrades with shady financial backgrounds.

‘I have committed no fraud’
Niehaus told Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday that he had paid back all his debts and bemoaned being labelled a fraudster.

“I have said very clearly that I have not committed fraud and I state categorically this morning again there had been no fraud, there had been no charges of fraud and I have not been found guilty of fraud. So it is straight slander to call me a fraudster,” he said.

“I made mistakes in ways I conducted my financial environment.”

Talk Radio 702 show host John Robbie, who interviewed Niehaus, wrote on Twitter that Niehaus had repaid all his debts.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom replied on Twitter that this was “not quite true”.

“He [Niehaus] has not made any attempt to repay loans he obtained,” Hanekom wrote. — additional reporting by Sapa

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members
Advertising

Press Releases

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday