Johannesburg - A row has erupted over Brian’s Molefe’s appointment as an ANC MP as party structures allege the former Eskom boss was sneaked through the back-door in an attempt to position him for a cabinet position.
For a long time, he has been rumoured to be earmarked to replace Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is involved in hefty battles with some government departments over the what Gordhan considers to be the reckless use of public purse.
This is according to well-placed sources familiar with the decision to nominate Molefe as an MP this week. In a surprise move that is likely to heighten tensions within the ANC, Parliament confirmed on Friday the controversial Molefe, who resigned from his position at Eskom after former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report linked him to the powerfully connected Gupta family, had been nominated “to fill a vacancy on the North West list of ANC MPs”.
The news has already caused ructions within the ANC structures in the North West, with various branches in the province rejecting his membership.
They said he was elevated to Parliament by the ANC’s national leadership.
This came after the ANC in North West, under the chairpersn and Premier Supra Mahumapelo, on Saturday congratulated Molefe about his impending elevation to Parliament. North West ANC secretary Dakota Legoete said the national leadership had decided to ratify their province’s submission for Molefe to fill in their vacant post in Parliament.
Legoete said Molefe was a resident and ANC member in Madibeng despite living in Centurion with his family.
“For the record, Brian is an ANC member in good standing of Ward 29 in Hartbeespoort Dam in Madibeng Local Municipality,” Legoete said.
However, Ward 29 branch chairperson Abdul Milanzi and branch secretary Christina Malula were adamant they did not know about Molefe’s branch membership.
“I only know Molefe as CEO of Eskom. People are just using our ward. They are corrupt people.
“They thought we are illiterate. Even if we are illiterate, we do understand our right. Somebody is playing a game,” Milanzi said on Saturday.
“The truth is Molefe was never in our branch records or meetings or even seen in the whole of Madibeng.”
Malula who said: “He (Brian Molefe) never took an oath before us. We do not even know where he stays in Madibeng. He was probably registered in a parallel branch which we do not know”.
Also dismissing Molefe’s membership was Sello Mogodiri, a member of Ward 29, which consists of Cosmos Ridge and various informal settlements of Cosmos and Skeerpoort.
Various other ANC members, including those living in Ward 30 and 35, as well the deputy chairperson of the ANC Bojanala region and former Speaker of the Madibeng local municipality, Buti Makhongela, also rejected Molefe’s membership. “We have no recent records of Molefe’s membership in Bojanala. Madibeng is our sub-region, if Molefe was their member, it would have reflected in the administrative records of the region,” Makhongela said.
Legoete had earlier appealed to ANC members not to be believe those rejecting Molefe’s ANC membership in the North West.
He singled out former ANC Bokone Bophirima deputy provincial chairperson, China Dodovu, who wrote on his Facebook page that the current ANC leaders in the North West know Molefe is not a resident of the province.
“The national leaders know this too. But as to why they are setting such as precedence unseen and unknown in the ANC remains a mystery... I can only conclude that this is done in pursuit of factional and parochial interests at the expense of the genuine leaders in the North West.” said Dodovu.
He appealed to Mofele not to accept his elevation to Parliament. “This once more is a clearest case of manipulating ANC processes to achieve devious, nefarious ends which will further divide the ANC,” Dodovu said.
Parliament is yet to decide on the date for Molefe’s swearing in, according to spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. The Sunday Independent understands Molefe would have been sworn in on Friday, and it was the absence of Speaker Baleka Mbete that had prevented the swearing-in ceremony.
A senior ANC leader said on Saturday Mbete was expected to announce his swearing-in on Tuesday..
Last month, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe denied Molefe was earmarked for a post as an MP. “We don’t wake up one day, put Brian Molefe on the list to Parliament, and he goes to Parliament. It doesn’t happen that way,” Mantashe was quoted as having said.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu refused to be drawn on where Molefe would be deployed in Parliament. He also declined to comment on his apparent appointment into Cabinet.
He said that was the decision of President Jacob Zuma.
Mthembu would not comment on Molefe as he has not been sworn-in as an MP.
“It’s when somebody arrives when we look at the expertise of the person,” he said.
“We must wait for him to come, where he is going and we give him that responsibility,” he said.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Gordhan was expected to deliver his Budget on Wednesday.
Speculation has been rife since last year that there has been a push for Molefe to be appointed finance minister.
The presidency has denied reports on Molefe’s appointment into the Treasury.
In November, former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report placed Molefe in the vicinity of the Gupta’s Saxonwold mansion 19 times between August 5 and November 15, 2015.
Molefe was said to have held meetings with Ajay Gupta, the eldest of the three Gupta brothers.
According to the report, there were 58 telephone calls between Molefe and Ajay between August 2015 and March last year.
He caused a stir when, during a media briefing, he broke down in tears while denying the details of Madonsela’s report.
He claimed he had been to Saxonwold at a shebeen two streets away from the Guptas, something that made him a subject of public scorn.
Molefe could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.