The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal says it will not retract or apologise for claims made by its provincial secretary about the EFF’s funder, despite the latter’s threats to sue for the “defamatory” comments.
The EFF has threatened to sue Bheki Mtolo for remarks made at a press conference last week, where Mtolo said that the EFF and the DA share the same funders.
“They are all funded by one people.
It’s just that the EFF is clever enough, they don’t go through right channels,” Mtolo said, adding that this was underground funding because of the Political Party Funding Act.
“The same funders who fund DA they fund EFF ... they are controlled by the same people,” Mtolo said.
In reaction, the EFF, through Ian Levitt Attorneys, wrote to Mtolo and threatened to sue unless he retracted the “defamatory” statements and apologised for making comments that had a “hurtful, damaging, defamatory, and unlawful effect”.
The party’s lawyers wanted the comments retracted by close of business on Thursday.
However, ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said they would not retract or apologise for the comments. He confirmed receiving the lawyer’s letter but said they would stand by the comments made at the press conference.
“We are not retracting those statements and we are willing to go to court to defend whatever we said. We will not be backtracking on the comments made,” Mndebele said.
Mtolo’s comments were made at a press conference just days after EFF councillors were seen tussling with City security officials at a council meeting in eThekwini. The councillors attempted to prevent City manager Musa Mbhele from addressing the meeting.
The EFF accused Mbhele of failing to spend R1.9 billion of the Municipal Disaster Management Grant and that the National Treasury had reduced the grant to R720 million.
The EFF in the province responded to the incident, saying it condemned the violence against its councillors who were demanding an explanation of why the grants had not been spent.
The ANC and EFF work closely together in eThekwini, Gauteng, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.
Mtolo had said the party would be engaging with EFF leaders on the viability of their coalition in eThekwini and the province.
Mndebele said the party had asked eThekwini speaker Thabani Nyawose to investigate the conduct of the EFF councillors at the council meeting and to “act, and act decisively”.
The EFF’s letter in response to Mtolo’s statements was titled “Extremely urgent” and “With prejudice”.
“These defamatory statements were made by you on 2 November 2023 through media platforms which were accessible to the public-at-large. The reach of your defamatory statements is extensive and has caused and will continue to cause our client significant reputational damage.”
The EFF demanded an immediate retraction.
“The public statement is to be shared by you on all your social media accounts, including but not limited to Facebook and Twitter (X),” reads the letter, with a condition that it should be issued as a media statement in Mtolo’s name.
EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said they had not received a response from the ANC in KZN by Thursday.
Asked what the party would do if there was no response, Thambo said: “Our next step would be to pursue legal options.”