African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, did not back down on his Nkandla fire pool remarks, instead has criticised the party’s National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe for breaking the protocol by addressing the media instead of facing him directly on the matter.
“We have got protocols, we don't talk past each other, we don't talk in the media and we don't promote public spats,” Mbalula said.
According to Mbalula, he tried reaching out to Mantashe to address his public comments on the fire pool issue but he was unable to.
“I have been trying to get hold of him the whole day, but I understand we are in the field and I couldn't get hold of him,” he said.
He spoke about Mantashe’s comments in an interview with the SABC on Tuesday night in which he said he was concerned about his conduct.
On Tuesday, Mantashe said Mbalula should have kept "mum" about the Nkandla fire pool saga and saved himself from catching fire.
“When you lead, you count every word you say; if you don't, you catch fire,” he said.
This is after Mbalula on Sunday, publicly admitted that the ANC had lied about the “swimming pool being a fire pool” at Nkandla, the homestead of the former president Jacob Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, Mbalula did not back down on his remarks about the Nkandla fire pool instead he said he was available for guidance and advice on how he could have handled the matter.
He said the public misinterpreted his statement on the ANC’s role in the scandal and that the police minister at the time, Nathi Nhleko, failed to explain the untruthfulness of the scandal.
“People misinterpret what I said, I did not say the ANC is a liar, I said the minister Nathi Nhleko had difficulty explaining the untruthfulness. He was sweating explaining that a swimming pool is a fire pool,” he said.
Mbalula added that the ANC’s late Jackson Mthembu also apologised on the matter in Parliament.
“And if you forget quite quickly Jackson Mthembu speaks to us from the grave, he apologised in Parliament for how Nkandla was handled.
“We are very sorry about that and we promise not to repeat such a thing,” he said.
Nhleko has since reportedly slammed Mbalula, describing him as the worst secretary-general in the African National Congress’s 112-year history.
The Nkandla fire pool scandal seems to be drowning the ANC activities in Mpumalanga. The ruling party is currently in Mbombela for its 112th anniversary celebrations.