The ANC has served uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus with a notice to suspend him as an employee of the governing party over his public attack on party deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte.
However, Niehaus, a key figure in the ANC faction that has coalesced around former president Jacob Zuma and current secretary general Ace Magashule, will remain as MKMVA spokesperson and a member of the party, according to its spokesperson, Pule Mabe.
Niehaus, who is battling with Covid-19-related pneumonia, was served the notice that he should show reasons as to why he should not be suspended, by ANC general manager Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, on Tuesday morning.
Niehaus, who attacked Duarte last week in a personal statement about his Covid-19 status, had previously been issued a written warning from the ANC over his public comments in October 2019.
In a letter to Niehaus, which M&G has seen, Potgieter-Gqubule said Niehaus had been advised, “on more than one occasion” that his public statements and social media posts were “unbecoming of someone working in this high office”, which was responsible for driving and co-ordinating the work of all party structures.
Potgieter-Gqubule said Niehaus’s attack on Duarte in his statement, issued on social media on January 14, “crosses all boundaries expected from an ANC employee, and particularly someone of your seniority”.
She said that his personal attack on Duarte, particularly in the statement, was a “serious violation” of the ANC personnel policy manual.
“ANC staff members are expected to abide by the discipline of the organisation,’’ she said. “Personal attacks by a member of staff on elected leadership — without even attempting to address the matter internally — is unprofessional, is not tolerated and is in violation of the manual.”
Niehaus has been given 48 hours to show cause as to why he should not be suspended on full pay, pending the institution of disciplinary action against him for misconduct.
Potgieter-Gqubule said the ANC, which had been informed of his Covid-19 status only when he made it public in the media, regretted that he was battling with Covid-19 and wished Niehaus a speedy recovery.
Niehaus did not respond to calls from M&G.
Mabe refused to comment on the matter, saying that it was an internal one and that the letter had not been made public by the party.
However, Mabe said that the notice of intention to suspend applied only to Niehaus’s Luthuli House post, not his party membership. He also remained MKMVA spokesperson, Mabe said.