/ 4 March 2024

Nathi Nhleko resigns from ANC, calls out ‘lunacy’ of Fikile Mbalula

The judge said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko's refusal to release the list was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Former Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko. File photo

Former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who gained notoriety during the Nkandla scandal, has resigned from the ANC. 

This follows an exchange with party secretary general Fikile Mbalula, who accused Nhleko of lying in parliament in defence of former President Jacob Zuma during the inquiry into the Nkandla scandal.

“Consequently, and regrettably, I resign from this African National Congress as its current values and principles are not aligned to mine,” Nhleko said.  

In a letter addressed to the Albertina Sisulu Branch secretary Tolo Fakazi, Nhleko said that Mbalula’s accusations demonstrated “the bankruptcy, lunacy, and the defunct manner of thinking by the Secretary General, which has unfortunately defined the barren form the ANC has undertaken”.

“In the past few years, I have observed that I no longer recognise this ANC that I joined, the ANC whose only aspiration was to liberate our people. The ANC as a liberation movement spoke and acted strongly on good ethics; a collective approach; was people focused; and emphasised on humanity and freedom for all,” he said. 

Nhleko said he had observed fundamental shifts in the ANC that were sad. It was “painful” to see an organisation he loved dearly turning into something unrecognisable, he said. 

This included the gradual dismantling and privatisation of state-owned enterprises; the transfer of control of vital sectors of the economy to the “white dominated private sector”; the reduction of state influence and oversight in critical sectors which could potentially compromise public interest and welfare, and the reduction of employment within state owned enterprises which, he said, leads to job losses. 

“The above stated points represent a deviation from the ANC founding principles, as starkly illustrated by [the] newly found emphasis on austerity measures. These austerity measures are characterised by severe reduction on social spending. For instance, social grants benefiting the elderly have been consistently increasing up until 2018 by 8% annually. Since 2018 the figure of 8% has been reduced to 4% annual increases, with a projected 2% to 3% annual increases for the Medium-Term Expenditure,” he said. 

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri confirmed that the party had received Nhleko’s resignation, adding that he had exercised his democratic right. 

Bhengu-Motsiri defended Mbalula against Nhleko’s criticism, saying that the ANC had full confidence in the secretary general’s ability to captain the ship. 

“There is nothing special [in Nhleko’s resignation], any member can resign. We have had members resign before.” 

She said that if Nhleko had concerns over the way the organisation was run, he should have consulted the senior leadership. 

The former minister said that the party was “ravaged” by its leaders tackling each other on public platforms. 

“We have witnessed situations where matters that ideally should have been handled amicably internally by our structures end up in courts and in public discourse. This demonstrates that the centre is no longer holding in the ANC,” he said, adding that upon reflection he could not continue as a member of the party.

“It is difficult to continue watching people in my community and all over our country suffer because of the failures of an organisation that I am part and parcel of and can’t do much to serve their lives for the better.” 

Nhleko graded his record of service as “impeccable”, saying that he had executed work assigned to him, “to the best of my ability and commitment and did not disappoint the ANC”. 

During his tenure as police minister, Nhleko was exposed as a Zuma henchman, instituting investigations into Zuma’s political foes. The auditor general also found that the financial management, governance, control and leadership of the department under Nhleko had regressed and was inadequate.

He was also the subject of a R114-million civil claim in which it was alleged that Nhleko played a role in clandestine activities to fund a union to rival the Association of Mining and Construction Union.