/ 7 November 2022

ANC regional secretary and Mashatile ally rejects claim that he bought votes for December conference

Mashatile says a decision was taken to recall Zuma if he refuses to step down.
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Nelson Mandela Bay ANC regional secretary Luyolo Nqakula is in hot water again, this time for allegedly using money to buy votes for the party’s December elective conference

In a letter dated 3 November, acting regional secretary and former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Eugene Johnson requested Nqakula to respond to the allegation within seven working days.

She said it had been brought to the attention of the regional officials that Nqakula paid monies to a member “residing in ward 5 Mobs Gqirana branch in exchange for a vote to the upcoming December ANC national conference”.

In a letter seen by the Mail & Guardian responding to the accusation, Nqakula said he found the letter by the ANC regional officials malicious and likened it to a witch-hunt. 

“Ordinarily I would not dignify such a correspondence, which is baseless, with a response but under these circumstances and the clear witch-hunt which was hidden now open I feel compelled to respond to your letter,” the ANC leader said. 

Nqakula is a known ally of Babalo Madikizela, who lost the Eastern Cape ANC conference to Oscar Mabuyane. He is among the ANC leaders in the province who are lobbying for Phumulo Masualle to take the position of secretary general. Nqakula is also part of the Madikizela faction that has close ties to acting secretary general Paul Mashatile. 

The ANC member in question, whose name is known to the M&G, denied that the money had been a bribe and said he had not been contacted by the office of the regional secretary (Nqakula) about a bribe.

“Mr Nqakula is an old friend of mine. It’s not the first time I asked him for help and this time I was about to be evicted at my business premises where I’m renting by the ANC regional offices, my landlord, for owing them R10 000 and Mr Nqakula paid the said amount as a loan directly to the ANC region bank account and sent me proof of payment and I forwarded this electronically proof of payment as is with Mr Nqakula’s name as the person who paid and reference was my business name on it I have personally asked him to pay it directly to them,” the ANC member said.       

Nqakula, who has had to step aside because he faces corruption charges, admitted to having paid R10 000 from his personal account to an ANC member, saying that he was approached by the member who faced being evicted from his business premises. 

“Can you clarify myself as to what constitutes bribery in that regard? And what is the correlation between this good deed and vote buying? I must state to yourselves as it is well known to you as the regional executive committee [REC] officials that as a comrade I indeed have a giving hand as and when required to do so, and when I am in a position to do so. That is what being a comrade is. I suspect that comrades might now suffer from a sense of amnesia but I will just point out a few reminders for the purposes of this case of amnesia on the part of the REC officials where I have made personal contributions from my own personal funds either to comrades or other related causes and that was never a subject of scrutiny or question before,” he wrote in his response. 

Nqakula alleges that he made personal contributions to the Nelson Mandela Bay chairperson, Babalwa Lobishe, to the tune of R13 000; R1 000 to deputy chairperson Siphiwo Tshaka; R7 500 to regional treasurer Luvuyo Mini; R8 000 to regional leader Stephanie Coemettie for funeral donations and R7 500 in tombstone donations for the late ANC leader, Gege Mbikanye. 

“It is known to yourselves as REC officials that I assist many comrades when required to do so, either through supporting financially community initiatives, matric farewells, tuition fees, church donations, donations for funeral services and personal circumstantial interventions. I think the REC officials know for a fact that my list is longer and broader. I have deliberately not gone that far based on how you respond to this correspondence of mine. I will not hesitate to do so. I have done the above to demonstrate to yourselves your malice and inconsistencies.” 

Mini said that Nqakula had assisted him with a car emergency, adding that he had paid back the money. 

“The other allegations, we are still investigating them,” he said referring to vote buying. 

Nqakula urged regional officials to be preoccupied with the task at hand of leading the region and ensuring the implementation of conference resolutions. He said regional officials should disabuse themselves with the general obsession with his name. 

“I have stepped aside and given space to the organisation. If comrades continue to invite me into the space in the manner in which they are doing I will enter into it. I spend most of my days at the funeral parlour and at home where many community members and comrades visit not on my request or invitation but out of their will and desire some come for various interactions so as to solicit assistance, counsel, advise etc it must be made known to yourselves that I will continue providing any type of support material or otherwise from those who request it from should I be in a position to do so as I have done so with yourselves as the REC officials on many occasions.” 

Nqakula is out on bail after he was charged with offering to give, and giving, gratifications to Democratic Alliance (DA) councillors to assist the ANC to oust the then mayor, Athol Trollip. 

He was arrested along with seven other prominent Nelson Mandela Bay individuals, including acting city manager Noxolo Nqwazi and the three DA councillors who were instrumental in the ousting of Trollip. 

The state argues that a “generally corrupt relationship” had existed between the three DA councillors and Nqakula, the Daily Maverick reported.

It reported that the charge sheet states that money used for these payments was allegedly paid to Thuthiko Logistics by Pelatona Projects, the company that was awarded the R24.6-million toilet tender in 2020, and then allegedly laundered through the accounts of Nelson Mandela Bay businessperson Xolani Masela, his wife Nwabisa Masela and her mother, Nonpumezo Florence Ngotsha, in transactions that all occurred in 2020.

It is alleged that after the tender was awarded, R400 000 was paid from Pelatona to Thuthiko Logistics, laundered through other bank accounts and eventually paid to Nqakula, who in turn paid DA councillors Victor Manyathi, Neville Higgins and Trevor Louw R100 000 each, the Daily Maverick reported.