Disgraced former health minister Zweli Mkhize and senior ANC member Tony Yengeni are alleged to have called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for the robbery at his farm in Limpopo during a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting late on Thursday night.
According to two sources privy to the meeting, Mkhize was supported by Yengeni. This is the first time Ramaphosa has faced off with the NEC since former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges against the president for, among others, corruption and money laundering.
The meeting, which sat until the early morning, was called to discuss the Ekurhuleni regional conference and the ANC Women’s League task team recommendations.
Ekurhuleni’s five quarantined branches have threatened to derail the Gauteng provincial conference, which was delayed from starting on Thursday, resulting in the 11th-hour intervention by the ANC’s highest decision-making body.
Mkhize and Yengeni are said to have questioned the agenda of the meeting, saying that the NEC was misplaced to deal with the issue because it was the responsibility of the Gauteng provincial executive committee.
“Zweli said we had far bigger things to worry about. The state capture report has just come out with damning findings against the party and the president is under heavy media scrutiny. Surely we should focus on those important issues,” an insider told the M&G.
While other ANC leaders also supported the call, it is understood that ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe put a lid on attempts to steer the meeting towards the Phala Phala scandal.
The insiders said Mantashe, along with treasurer general Paul Mashatile, took turns defending Ramaphosa.
Mantashe allegedly told the meeting that the top six were compiling a report that would be referred to the NEC.
An ally of Ramaphosa said this was “a desperate attempt” by his detractors to embarrass the president.
Ramaphosa survived attempts to unseat him at the previous national working committee (NWC) meeting earlier this month. Yengeni led that attempt to have the ANC president stand down.
ANC sources said Yengeni, a supporter of former president Jacob Zuma, placed the charges on the NWC’s agenda by requesting that the body take a decision to refer the president to the party’s integrity commission to “explain himself”.
Yengeni also pushed the NWC to instruct Ramaposa to voluntarily submit himself to parliament’s ethics committee to prevent authority on the matter being “claimed” by the opposition and “for them to run with it”.