Pretoria - Disgraced former Gauteng local government and Housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi and others have been accused of offering huge sums to Tshwane ANC members to buy votes for President Jacob Zuma ahead of Mangaung.
Independent Newspapers was reliably told that Tshwane ANC regional chairman and mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa formally complained about Mmemezi, the provincial ANC deputy secretary and a committed Zuma supporter, at a tense provincial executive committee meeting (PEC) on Saturday. Mmemezi was not at the meeting when these concerns were raised.
He was recently forced to relinquish his position as MEC following an exposé by Independent Newspapers that he had misused his state-issued credit card and damaged a government-owned luxury vehicle.
ANC sources said Ramokgopa, who supports Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s bid to dislodge Zuma as ANC president, also implicated Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in the alleged vote-buying scandal ahead of the party’s national elective conference next month.
Mazibuko confirmed on Sunday that Ramokgopa had raised concerns about the use of money to buy votes, saying he didn’t mention names.
But she and Mmemezi vehemently denied all the allegations and challenged the accusers to prove such claims. “I deny all the allegations. It is a known fact that I vote for Zuma. I vote for Zuma as a principle. So do other people in the organisation. I do not have that money they are talking about,” Mmemezi said.
Mazibuko, who was recently elected as Gauteng ANC Women’s League deputy secretary, called on those behind the allegations to come out in the open. Her league recently nominated Zuma. She also offered to give her bank account details for public scrutiny in her bid to show that the allegations were baseless.
Mazibuko confirmed that the PEC had asked Ramokgopa and his regional executive to provide a list of the names of party leaders suspected of having splurged money to influence branch nominations.
“He [Ramokgopa] did not mention names. I’ve never interacted with anyone from Tshwane. I never offered cash to anybody in the regions. I survive on my monthly salary. I cannot share it with anyone. I have my own debts to settle.
“It is wrong to buy votes. You can go and check my bank account. I do not have such amounts in my bank account,” Mazibuko stressed.
Independent Newspapers understands that Ramokgopa’s concerns came after some Tshwane ANC branches complained to the regional leadership that Mmemezi and Mazibuko had offered individual members cash in exchange for them ditching Motlanthe. Motlanthe has been endorsed by the Gauteng PEC, led by Arts Minister Paul Mashatile and by the provincial ANC Youth League.
Acting on a mandate from his concerned branches, Ramokgopa, took up the issue with ANC provincial secretary David Makhura. Earlier, Makhura denied that vote rigging formed part of their PEC discussions, but later back-tracked when presented with evidence of what transpired at the meeting.
Initially, Makhura said Saturday’s proceedings mainly focused on preparations for their upcoming nomination conference on Thursday and the provincial general council meeting expected to be held on December 8. “I will never discuss any complaints raised by the branches and regions in the media,”
Allegations of vote-buying against Mmemezi and Mazibuko come weeks after Zuma and the ANC’s national working committee, the party’s highest operational organ, established three task teams to get to the bottom of written complaints that some branch nomination processes had been marred by irregularities and fraud.
About 1 percent of the ANC’s 3 500 branches had complained to secretary-general Gwede Mantashe that their meetings held to nominate party leaders had been irregularly convened and the outcomes manipulated. Ramokgopa could not be reached for comment, and regional secretary Paul Mojapelo said he was not at the meeting.
But Independent Newspapersunderstands some meetings between Ramokgopa and some provincial leaders in the Zuma camp did take place in the last few weeks.
Zuma lobbyists in Tshwane claimed they could secure Ramokgopa’s support if they could ensure him that he would not be recalled or purged after Mangaung.
They claimed that regardless of the nominations that had been made so far by Tshwane branches, what mattered most was whether Ramokgopa could convince the elected delegates to vote for Zuma in the secret ballot at Mangaung.
In an interview with Independent Newspapers on Friday, Mojapelo did not rule out any possibility of people trying to influence Ramokgopa.
“This is a lobbying period, but our position [is] that the ANC could be doing better. Whether the chairman is being lobbied or not I cannot say… we have not discussed that,” he said.