‘I’m being targeted for speaking out against powerful ANC figures’ — Mabuyane

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.”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Wits in a climate hot spot

The university says it provides a platform for multiple voices to be heard on any issue, including that of a climate denialist

Mantashe is pumping gas

The minister believes liquified petroleum gas is needed in the energy mix, but some experts are not convinced of its merits

More top stories

‘I’m no climate-change denier’

The presentation by Lars Schernikau, who works in the commodity and coal business, has provoked an outcry

Mlambo invites commentary on claims of judicial capture, again

A candidate for the Northern Cape bench lucidly explained in reply to the Gauteng Judge President that bribing a judge is a lottery you are bound to lose

Funding bombshell leaves law students in limbo

Wits sent students notices stating that they were liable for tuition, allowance and accommodation costs for 2020. The bombshell was dropped on the students in the last week of March.

Alcohol lobby’s data is wobbly

A recent report by the alcohol industry contradicting established research and should be thoroughly questioned

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…