ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe will know by Wednesday the findings of the panel of national executive committee (NEC) members appointed to investigate charges of sexual harassment laid against him by his personal assistant.
Mabe, who stepped down from his post for the duration of the inquiry, which was appointed by the ANC’s top six on Monday, allegedly sexually harassed the 26-year-old woman twice since he employed her.
She made the allegations against Mabe, who was appointed as spokesperson after the ANC’s national conference at Nasrec last December, in a 14-page letter that was handed to the ANC’s human resources department at its Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg last week.
According to acting ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete, the matter was being investigated by a panel set up by the office of the secretary general at the behest of the party’s top six. The panel, which is chaired by NEC members S’dumo Dlamini and Thoko Didiza, would be expected to produce findings and recommendations by Wednesday.
“Both the alleged victim and perpetrator were given an opportunity to make submissions … [and] witnesses are still giving submissions. The panel will make an assessment with a finding that will be binding on both parties,” Legoete said, adding that “the whole process is independent”.
The complainant is understood to have brought forward several witnesses. It is not clear whether Mabe has done so.
Legoete said the party had moved more quickly in this case than in other sexual harassment matters because this was between an ANC employee and employer.
It took four months before the ANC’s integrity committee dealt with similar allegations made against former Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman, who was found guilty of two counts of sexual harassment of a 21-year-old intern at the ANC’s anniversary celebrations in 2016. Fransman now faces criminal charges.
In November 2007, the ANC fired its parliamentary chief whip, Mbulelo Goniwe, more than a year after he was charged for attempting to solicit sexual favours from parliamentary intern Nomawele Njongo.
Legoete said the party’s top six had wanted the matter dealt with by the NEC rather than by Luthuli House staff, because Mabe is an NEC member.
“A grievance was sent to HR [human resources] late last week and they referred it to the office of the secretary general [SG] and it was then tabled at the top six on Monday. They immediately mandated the SG to institute a panel to look into it. None of the executives or staff members could pursue it as cadre Pule is an NEC member.”
Legoete added that the matter also had labour relations implications for the ANC.
“This is not an organisational issue; it is a workplace matter involving an employee … It’s not only political; it needs to be handled administratively in line with the laws of the republic,” he said.
“If we failed to protect the employee that employee has a right to litigate because it will look like we took sides. Cadre Pule is an executive to this PA [personal assistant] and the allegation is that their relationship took another turn,” he said.
ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said the party needed to ensure that “we don’t repeat the mistakes we made with other cases” and handled the matter as swiftly as possible.