The ANC has fired Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus as a party employee over his public threats to lay theft charges against the party leadership because of the nonpayment of salaries and benefits.
Niehaus, a keen supporter of former president Jacob Zuma and a leader of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction in the governing party, had previously received a number of written warnings from the ANC over his public statements and actions.
The former political prisoner had been employed at Luthuli House under the office of suspended secretary general Ace Magashule and, earlier this week, threatened court action against party bosses on behalf of striking staff members.
ANC employees have staged protests and industrial action after the party’s failure to pay their salaries and benefits since June.
On Wednesday, Niehaus issued a statement threatening to lay charges against the party’s top six leaders for theft, fraud and failure to pay Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits to ANC staff.
The move incensed the ANC leadership, and on Thursday morning general manager Febe Potgieter wrote to Niehaus, giving him until 4pm to provide reasons why he should not be fired.
“It has come to our attention that you issued a press release inviting the media to witness the laying of criminal charges of ‘theft, fraud, corruption and various statutory crimes, against the national office bearers of the ANC’. As your employer, the ANC would like you to provide it with the reasons why it should not summarily dismiss you,” Potgeiter said.
A failure to meet the deadline “will result in the immediate termination of your employment contract without further notice”, Potgeiter added.
In a letter responding to the general manager, Niehaus said that the threat to terminate his employment without notice or a disciplinary hearing was illegal.
The short notice he was given to provide reasons as to why he should not be summarily dismissed was “draconian and most unreasonable”, he added.
Niehaus said he did not deny having issued the media statement announcing that he and other staff members were about to lay criminal charges, but noted that “the media statement did not state at all that this intended action was on behalf of the ANC Staff Association, nor did it create that impression in any way whatsoever”.
On Thursday afternoon ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a television interview that Niehaus had not met the deadline and that his services were terminated.
Mabe said Niehaus’s behaviour was “divisive, opportunistic and anti-ANC” and that he had issued a “fraudulent” statement that he was representing ANC staff, which was not true.