Johannesburg - ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe has become the latest ANC leader to be embroiled in a sexual grievance laid by a personal assistant, days after the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that it was prosecuting former Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman on charges of sexual assault of his own aide in 2016.
On Monday, the ANC confirmed it had received the complaint by the staffer, who also alleged that she was hired without going through a job interview. The party said it had established a grievance panel that would hear the matter this week.
Speaking to Independent Media, Mabe described the sexual harassment allegations as false. “I respect the rights of women and will never do anything in my power to violate those rights. I was raised by a single mother and I know what it means to protect and preserve the rights of women,” he said. “It is located within the very values and principles I carry as an individual and as an activist.”
Mabe said the recruitment of the complainant was a part of boosting the work of his office.
“I believe in the energy of young people, whether they are young men or young women, so bringing that kind of a team to work within the department of information and publicity of the ANC was an important step towards nurturing talent and making sure that the movement could be able to invest rightly in the future,” he said.
“If there are instances when certain allegations are raised, we make ourselves available to attend to those. I am subjecting myself to the process that my organisation has already defined and I will participate and cooperate fully,” Mabe said.
In a 14-page grievance letter addressed to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, which the Independent Media has seen, the complainant details how Mabe allegedly hired her without going through normal processes.
The complainant then accuses Mabe of sexual advances, which she claims she was expected to entertain to secure her job.
This includes an incident in which Mabe allegedly insisted on staying in her room one night at St George’s Hotel in Pretoria despite having his own room, before she signed the contract of employment.
She said Mabe switched off the lights in the room, and she responded by saying that the lights must be kept on, “because I need them to be on”.
The complainant alleged she eventually fell asleep, only to find Mabe having switched the lights off with his legs on top of her body.
“I immediately snapped and asked why he was in my blankets, his response what that he is taking a break from completing his assignment, which didn’t make sense. My heart began beating so fast because a lot of things occupied my mind; first was ‘how could someone I regarded as a brother, leader and comrade do this? Wanting to get into bed with me? Isn’t this man supposed to be my boss?
“I then remembered the previous night, what sprung to my mind when I was asked to sit closer to him in an inappropriate manner that an employer and an employee shouldn’t find themselves in. Worse I hadn’t signed my contract, and quite frankly, this wasn’t what I would be signing my contract for (to give out sex in return of a job),” she said.
ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa said the party would not comment on the matter until the internal grievance process was finalised.
The ANC Women’s League on Monday called on the ANC to deal speedily with allegations of sexual harassment against national spokesperson Pule Mabe as the scandal rocked Luthuli House.
In a statement, the league said the allegations were disturbing.
“The ANC Women’s League condemns sexual harassment and any form of violence against women (and) children.
“While we take into account the principles of innocent until proven guilty, the league is resolute in supporting the victims of sexual harassment and wishes to reiterate this position,” the women’s league said.
The allegations of sexual harassment against Mabe come after a string of sex scandals involving politicians.
In 2007, the ANC parted ways with its former chief whip, Mbulelo Goniwe, after charging him with abuse of office by trying to obtain sexual favours from a parliamentary intern Nomawele Njongo.
SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been recently embroiled in yet another sex scandal after a former employee of Numsa allegedly filed a complaint, accusing him of sexual harassment.