Eastern Cape premier and ANC chairperson Oscar Mabuyane has called allegations of wrongdoing levelled against him part of an orchestrated attack to discredit him, following his statements against former president Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Mabuyane, who has been vocal that Magashule should respect the party’s resolutions and step aside, said recent reports were a reaction to “something”.
Magashule is facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering related to the beleaguered R255-million asbestos project. He has however maintained his innocence, telling supporters that he would only step aside from his duties at Luthuli House if prompted by a special conference of the ANC.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Mabuyane said. “It’s a reaction to something, […] whether to our statements that are articulating positions to resolutions of the ANC, and also [that] the effective implementation of the resolution is not about looking for popularity,” he said.
The M&G recently reported how Mabuyane allegedly protected his former MEC of health Sindiswa Gomba as well as former head of the health department Thobile Mbengashe. He has since fired Gomba and suspended Mbengashe.
There has also been a call for Mabuyane to face the national integrity committee after he was accused of siphoning R450 000 from the embattled Mbizana municipality to renovate his East London mansion. He has denied these allegations.
Last month, M&G reported that the Eastern Cape ANC had resolved that former president Jacob Zuma should have his party membership suspended and face disciplinary proceedings for defying the party orders that members should cooperate with the Zondo commission.
“The revolutionary morality and renewal programme demands that those elected must understand and internalise the decision of conferences,” Mabuyane said, adding that those who wanted to oust him had made “a well-concocted, deliberate plan. I know there are people who are spending sleepless nights to ensure that Mabuyane goes down the drain. I know it’s part of an agenda to paralyse the province.”
“That clarion call made by the national conference [said] for the ANC to move to another 100 years, it needs a Damascus moment. Leaders need to take full responsibility. Because if we don’t, we will continue to have a problem with a cult of people who think they are bigger than the ANC. The principle of selflessness and sacrifice is the embodiment of the moral fibre of the ANC. A government of the people must always be checked by the people. That is why you have Chapter 9 institutions, the courts and judicial inquiries: to ensure the work of government must always be under surveillance,” he said.
Mabuyane, a known supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa, was elected as chair in the controversial 2017 conference dubbed the “festival of chairs”.
The conference was heavily criticised by those in support of former president Jacob Zuma – and by extension, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – as being illegitimate.
With Mabuyane in control in the province, this ensures that Ramaphosa enjoys support from one of the three biggest ANC provinces.
Party members, however, say all is not well in the province and that Mabuyane is battling to maintain control. They say provincial treasurer Babalo Madikizela is being punted as his main contender when the province goes to its elective congress next year.
Madikizela supported Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s ambitions for party president during the Nasrec conference.
Mabuyane has rubbished rumours that he is at odds with Madikizela.
He tells M&G the provincial executive committee was “intact, focused and committed on organisational renewal and we are forging ahead”.
“Our collective belief is that we knew when we took this conscious decision (to say this Damascus moment has arrived), we will be under attack because factions have reached a maturity stage. They think they are bigger than the organisation,” he said.
He adds that he will stand for a second term, saying that for the ANC to be effective in the province, any party leaders need at least two terms to ensure policies are implemented.
“I will never refuse that one,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why not. You must know I’m not afraid of contests. In all the elections I have been contested. When branches see fit I will be available. My heart is still wholeheartedly in the Eastern Cape and I believe working with people in the Eastern Cape to stabilise policies here is what will take the province to a higher level.”