ANC members and political experts have questioned Fikile Mbalula’s suitability for the position of the party’s secretary-general (SG) following public utterances that have “undermined” and “damaged” the party at its most critical period.
Mbalula has come under fire after he revealed that the ANC had lied in Parliament to cover-up that millions of rand in public funds were spent improperly on upgrading former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
During a recent press briefing Mbalula said the party’s MPs had lied to Parliament, saying a swimming pool was a fire pool. Mbalula’s comments were in response to Zuma’s announcement that he would be joining the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party.
Analysts that spoke to The Mercury said public statements that have triggered internal spats between members, have distracted from the party’s birthday celebrations this weekend and have led to the party’s allegiance to the public being questioned in an election year.
Reacting to the outrage, former SG and ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe said Mbalula will grow into the role, adding that he had been excited to see cameras and said something that he should not have.
“As the SG you need to count every word you say, otherwise you will catch fire.”
Reacting to the outrage, former SG and ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe said Mbalula will grow into the role, adding that he had been excited to see cameras and said something that he should not have. “As the SG you need to count every word you say, otherwise you will catch fire.”
Former police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, one of the key players in the fire-pool scandal, fired back denying that he was instructed to lie about the pool, describing Mbalula as the worst SG in the party’s history.
In a leaked audio recording, Nhleko was scathing about how the matter of the formation of the MK Party is being handled, saying the leadership had “lacked strategic thinking and maturity to respond to a matter like this”.
“I am convinced that in the ANC, if we have a secretary-general like this one, the worst ever in the 112 year history of the organisation, we are not going to achieve anything.
You can’t speak first before you think, it just cannot happen that way.”
An ANC member in the Youth League, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mbalula was not the ideal candidate for the job.
“While some view his passionate and tough stance as a much-needed call for accountability, others find it too emotional and not reflective of the wider sentiment within the party.
“His projection might resonate with some but alienate others, highlighting the diversity of opinions within the ANC,” she said.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the incidents have been damaging for the ANC. “The office of the SG in the ANC has always been held by very astute individuals.
“Mbalula is always prone to gaffes, this is no different and he tends to shoot from the hip, he is more suited for the position in the campaigns unit, the office he holds is much bigger than him, it needs a much more mature person,” he said.
“By admitting they lied about the Nkandla pool, the question now is whether they are lying about Phala Phala because they followed the exact same process in dealing with that matter.”
“This mistake has also now raised a serious question as to whether the ANC is there to represent the public in Parliament, or they are there on a self enrichment exercise where they protect each other. The ANC was a sinking ship before this, and this has just pushed it further down,” he said.
Political analyst Siyabonga Ntombela agreed with Mantashe’s stance that Mbalula would grow into the role.
“The ANC is a big organisation, he is the right person in that he talks and defends the organisation. But what he said is something that should have been said in a caucus meeting.
“As for the damage to the image of the party, there is nothing more that this will do to the image of the party that has not already been done by a number of other unpalatable things that the party is embroiled in.”