Port Elizabeth - Agang SA's Eastern Cape branch has thrown its weight behind leader Mamphela Ramphele following factionalism within the party over an account that had been opened up to receive an IEC refund.
“We confirm our unqualified support for Dr Mamphela Ramphele as president and leader of Agang SA and the steps she has taken to assert control of the organisation,” the province's spokesman Philip Machanick said in a statement on Sunday.
“We further reject attempts to tarnish the reputation of our leader by unfounded defamatory accusations of fraud.”
On Friday, the party's national spokesman Mark Peach said Ramphele had opened a fraud case with police involving the account which had been opened to receive an Electoral Commission of SA refund following the general election. The refund was believed to be around R200,000.
This follows another fraud case opened at the Centurion police station by the party's chairman Mike Tshishonga for the same reason.
Peach said Ramphele and Tshishonga both wanted to determine how the account “came to be”.
“We don't know who opened the account, and it's too early to say anything. Until an investigation has happened, we simply don't know,” Peach said on Friday.
A day earlier, Peach rejected claims by The New Age that Tshishonga's case was against Ramphele. The newspaper reported on its website that Tshishonga accused Ramphele of having direct access to party funds, and that she opened the bank account to access the IEC deposit without a mandate from the party.
On Friday, Tshishonga claimed his signature appeared on the bank account's paperwork without his knowledge.
Agang SA's Western Cape spokeswoman Monica Graaff, meanwhile, said no suspect was mentioned in the Tshishonga's case.
Peach said no theft case was opened.
“...But there would appear to have been the use of a scanned signature to open the account as neither Dr Ramphele nor Tshishonga signed original bank account documents on behalf of the party,” he said.
On Friday night, Ramphele issued a stern warning to members, saying suspensions were on the cards for those who tarnished her image.
“I fully expect there will be several suspensions from the party as information has come to light about activities of some members...who have chosen to indulge in selfish and self-centred behaviour,” she said in an email to Sapa.
“Those who made and continue to make untested allegations in the media to tarnish my reputation as president will be disciplined.”
She said actions will be taken through proper channels.
“Anyone who continues to participate in these factional activities, including meetings not sanctioned by my office, will define themselves as acting outside the interests of Agang and will be treated accordingly.”
Machanick said there was a meeting scheduled in Johannesburg on Sunday, apparently being held by a faction of the party.
Machanick said Agang's Eastern Cape executive has distanced itself from the meeting.
“In the interests of unity and the future of Agang SA, we call on the organisers of the meeting to desist from their divisive actions by cancelling the meeting,” he said.
“In the event that they do not do so, we call on all provincial structures to withdraw from the meeting and to also express their unqualified support for Dr Mamphela Ramphele as president and leader of Agang SA.”