/ 12 December 2022

Carl Niehaus gets the chop as ANC cracks down ahead of conference

Carl Niehaus Speaks Out After His Suspension By The Anc In South Africa
Carl Niehaus, the spokesperson for the disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe MIlitary Veterans Association (MKMVA), has been expelled by the ANC. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Carl Niehaus, the spokesperson for the disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe MIlitary Veterans Association (MKMVA), has been expelled by the governing party, the latest victim of a crackdown by its disciplinary and electoral committees ahead of Friday’s national conference.

Niehaus, a staunch ally of former president Jacob Zuma and one of the most outspoken critics of the current head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to fight the expulsion by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC).

Niehaus was expelled after being found guilty on six counts of violation rule 25 of the party’s constitution, which “brought the ANC into disrepute” based on his comments at Nkandla and Estcourt last year after the arrest of Zuma for contempt for refusing to return to the Zondo commission on state capture to face cross-examination.

Shortly after the news of his expulsion broke, Niehas said on social media that he would oppose the decision “to the hilt” and had written to the national disciplinary committee lodging notice of his intention to appeal.

“I have already appealed the travesty of justice of my illegal expulsion by the ANC NDC. Because I have appealed, the farcical expulsion is suspended. I remain a full member of the ANC,” Niehaus said.

In its findings, the disciplinary committee said the “charged member showed no remorse and persisted with his view that the ANC was acting in violation of its constitution and his rights by disciplining him”.

The disciplinary committee took into consideration Niehaus’s long-standing membership of the ANC and the fact that he had served a term of imprisonment for his political activities, but said despite this he and all other ANC members “were bound by the code of conduct of the organisation”.

It said that the evidence presenter at Niehaus’s hearing had recommended a five-year suspension to give him time to “be rehabilitated” and to “reflect and change his behaviour”.

“However, the failure of the charged member to show any remorse for his misconduct convinced the NDC that he was not capable of being rehabilitated,” the disciplinary committee added.

“The sanction imposed by the NDC was not taken easily, especially in light of the charged member’ history and the time he devoted to the struggle as a member of the ANC.” 

The action by the disciplinary committee comes on the heels of a flurry of letters of disbarment sent to a number of high profile ANC leaders who had hoped to contest another term on its national executive committee (NEC), among them Bathabile Dlamini and Tony Yengeni.

The group, mainly leaders loyal to Zuma, were barred from accepting nomination by the electoral commission (EC) after a vetting process, conducted once nominations by branches for the NEC’s 80 members.

It also comes as another group of eight aspirant NEC members have gone to court for an urgent order forcing the ANC electoral commission headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, to provide exact details as to the exact number of votes each received and from which branches.

In papers filed in the Johannesburg high court, Isaac Mashaba and seven other would-be NEC members asked for an urgent hearing on Thursday at which they would seek an order compelling the electoral commission to publish a spreadsheet of all branch nominations.

They further want the court to force the ANC to provide their rankings in the nominations process and details of which branches voted for them in each of the party’s nine provinces.

In papers, Mashaba and his comrades said that should the ANC fail to provide this detail by 16 December, it should then be placed on the conference agenda for debate in a plenary session before the elections for the NEC were held.

In his founding affidavit, Mashba said the ANC was breaking its own regulations by not making the detailed spreadsheet available to all branches, and that the electoral commission did not have the authority to rule on their appeals against its decision that they did not make the cut for the top 200 names from which the NEC will be elected.

Mashaba said the group had already approached the NEC with no success. 

“It is now clear that the list of 200 names published was not determined in a transparent process that can be seen to have been fair.” 

He said the matter was urgent because once the election was held, they would be prejudiced for the next five years.

“There is imminent danger of members being elected to lead the organisation and later the

country through flawed processes to the detriment of the members of the ANC and the country,” he said.

“The honourable court can stop the respondents from any further unlawful conduct by compelling them to provide the demanded information, failing which they place the matter on national conference agenda for debate prior to the election for the NEC being conducted.

“Were this national conference to proceed without dealing with the matter of flawed nomination list, the ANC may suffer irreparable reputational harm, that is likely to lead to its further erosion … as this flawed list process will lead to a reasonable inference that the ANC is captured by a few people and its leadership is not a true reflection of the will of its members and by implication not a will of the people.”

The ANC says it will oppose the application.