Newly appointed Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula has castigated the ANC’s integrity commision saying its members have been co-opted into a plot against President Jacob Zuma.
This after the integrity commission on Monday reportedly wrote a letter to Luthuli house recommending that Zuma step down for bringing the organisation into disrepute after he reshuffled his cabinet without consulting the party’s top brass.
The commission is chaired by struggle veteran and Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni. Other members of the commission includes former National Assembly Speaker Frene Ginwala who serves as Mlangeni’s deputy, another Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg, anti-apartheid activist Sophie De Bruyn and human rights lawyer Nokukhanya Jele.
In an exclusive interview with the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday, Mbalula claimed the struggle veterans were used by a faction within the ANC to force president Zuma out of office.
“They [the veterans] have compromised themselves. Some of the members of the organisation who are overzealous have basically misused those veterans and basically undermined the very essence of that integrity commission. I can tell you now, there is a big plot here and that plot is centred around president Jacob Zuma,” said Mbalula at the sidelines of the South African Police Service parade organised to welcome him as the new minister in Pretoria.
Mbalula’s remarks on the integrity commission are an indication of the extent to which Zuma’s supporters will defend the embattled ANC president during the party’s extended national working committee, which started in Johannesburg on Monday. Senior ANC leaders like former Northern Cape party ANC chair John Block, former Western Cape chairman Marius Fransman, former NEC members Dina Pule and Merriam Segabutla, were forced to step down from their positions after recommendations by the commission. But Zuma reportedly refused step down after the commission asked him to do so last December.
The president had his first meeting with the commission on December 3 following the release of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report in which he was implicated. In the weeks leading to his appearance before the commission, some of the veterans including Ginwala and Mlangeni publicly criticised Zuma’s leadership style.
Now Zuma’s supporters have questioned the credibility of the commission following the critical public statements made by some if its members.
“That undermines a very critical part of our organisation. But for my own respect I think I’d better not comment about them. I’ll raise my issues about them in the organisation because I don’t want to sound like I’m undermining the elders of our party,” Mbalula said.
The commission has asked for an urgent meeting with the ANC’s top officials where it will discuss its concerns regarding the cabinet reshuffle and possibly repeat its calls for Zuma to step down.
Mbalula said he would raise his issues with the commission within the party’s internal structures and give its members an opportunity to explain their actions.