The ANC “intervened” on Monday and stopped disgruntled former ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) national executive committee members (NEC) from responding to allegations levelled at them by EFF leader Julius Malema.
The party denied the 11 ANC Women’s League members who resigned during the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s tenure as president of the league, resigned because she was a “criminal” as alleged by Malema.
The party said instead, the resignations were over “rifts” within the league.
Paying tribute to Madikizela-Mandela during her funeral service, Malema accused some ANC leaders of being “sellouts”.
He claimed some ANCWL executive members who had been part of the en masse resignations in protest against being led by a “criminal”, were in attendance at the funeral and were playing prominent roles in the service.
These comments were seen as a veiled reference to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who was programme co-director during the service.
Mapisa-Nqakula and 10 other then-NEC members of the ANCWL, including late struggle icons Adelaide Tambo and Ruth Mompati, Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Mazizi Mayaka-yaka-Manzini, are said to have resigned in the 90s during Madikizela-Mandela’s tenure as president.
Mokonyane and Mbete attended the funeral service at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
During a press conference, where the women were expected to respond to the allegations, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, head of elections Fikile Mbalula and current ANCWL secretary general Meokgo Matuba addressed the media instead.
“Let me say categorically the ANC does not believe that those allegations are true, because the historical time factor was wrong in the first place,” Duarte said.
She said at the time that the women resigned, there was no court judgment against Madikizela-Mandela. However, there was a “serious rift” within the league. Duarte refused to go into detail, arguing the party and country were still mourning the passing of the liberation stalwart.
“There were other matters, serious matters in the women’s league that occasioned the rift between very senior people and herself – now is not the time to go into details as we’re still in a period of mourning,” she said.
She admitted that the ANC had intervened to stop the disgruntled women from addressing the media themselves.
She said the women leaders were in fact at the venue, Luthuli House, while the press conference was underway. She said the national working committee (NWC) that was meeting had decided they should not address the media, but that they should be defended by the party.
Without mentioning Malema by name, Duarte said the allegations were “spurious”.
“We didn’t think it was appropriate for them as senior cadres of this movement to defend themselves,” she said.
The women were said to be fuming over Malema’s claims that have dominated social media, with past articles mentioning their names being circulated.
Mbalula confirmed that some of the leaders whose names had been posted on social media had approached the organisation.
“The organisation advised that it is not advisable at this period while we’re still mourning to be speaking individually about all sorts of accusations that will be made, and aspersions on individuals. But it does not mean that the ANC will not respond on those issues,” he said.
“At an appropriate moment the ANC will speak on those issues, but the ANC will work very hard to preserve the legacy of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” Mbalula added. – News24