Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Picture: Zwelethemba Kostile/Parliament of SA

Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters have accused the CR17 campaign managers, especially Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, of having used them to enrich themselves from the R1billion raised for his ANC leadership campaign in 2017.

They claim that Ntshavheni, who was the campaign co-ordinator in Limpopo, gave local ANC leaders a quarter of the R6000 allocated per branch to help sway members in Ramaphosa’s favour during the branch general meetings held before the Nasrec conference.

At least 10 CR17 activists from Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal - including a provincial leader, a campaign co-ordinator, a regional chairperson, a regional executive committee member, two branch secretaries and a businessman - said they felt used and betrayed by Ntshavheni and her fellow campaign managers.

They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation and because they were not authorised to speak to the media about ANC matters.

The Sunday Independent learnt this week that Ntshavheni allegedly used a portion of the more than R5million she received from the CR17 campaign funds to buy a luxury vehicle and build a mansion in Thohoyandou for her mother.

On Saturday, Ntshavheni did not respond to a list of questions sent to her for comment, including allegations that she was building another mansion for her alleged lover, Risimati Hlongwane.

Hlongwane, a CR17 regional co-ordinator in Vhembe, said on Saturday that he had received a number of payments from CR17 accounts and used “all the money for the president’s campaign”.

He confirmed travelling to Thailand on holiday immediately after the Nasrec conference and said he paid for the trip from his own pocket.

“I am struggling financially and I have bills that aren’t being paid,” added Hlongwane.

He confirmed that he is building a six-bedroom house in a Makhado suburb. “My wife obtained a bond for over R300000 to buy the stand and I’m building the house from my pocket. I have been making personal loans to build it.”

Hlongwane dismissed claims that he was romantically involved with Ntshavheni.

“Khumbudzo is my comrade, whatever is happening between us is political and not sexual. I wouldn't be struggling like this financially if she was my girlfriend.”

He confirmed that Ntshavheni had received millions from the CR17 campaign but insisted she used it for the campaign.

“I know this because we spent time together, she was a provincial co-ordinator and I was a regional one. We did spend time together running the president’s campaign.”

This comes after last week's exposé in the Sunday Independent that a group of politicians, campaign managers and strategists had earned millions for their roles in the campaign, with some having been on the CR17 payroll for the year leading up to the Nasrec conference which ushered Ramaphosa to power.

They included Ntshavheni, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya, ANC national executive committee member Enoch Godongwana, Ramaphosa’s adviser Marion Sparg and former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana.

They had apparently earned between R400000 and R5million each.

Reacting to the exposé on social media, Thabo Mabotja, who is a branch secretary from Seshego outside Polokwane, accused Ntshavheni of having used the CR17 activists to enrich herself.

“Ours is just to support while bo Makhadzi loot(s) millions and ministerial positions! Nywenywe VBS nywenywe step aside yet you looted R5million. Mxm le re dira di stupid lena! This campaign enriched a few elites who are close to the president while the majority who thought they were supporting a genuine course (sic) didn't receive a single cent. We will meet at the NGC! Bring all bank statements,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

He declined to comment when approached on Friday.

A regional leader from Waterberg in Limpopo accused Ntshavheni of “disrespecting” Limpopo ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha by convening the province and of “stealing” money meant for branches.

He said she gave the 57 regional branches between R1000 and R1500 each despite the CR17 national campaign team allocating urban branches R5000, rural ones R6000, and branches with two or more delegates R10000.

“As the REC, we felt she was disrespecting us. It was sheer arrogance for Khumbudzo to do what she did. The money that was supposed to come to the branches was R6000 for BGMs. Instead what came was R1500 or R1000. You steal R4500 from each branch. We then got a strong view that Khumbudzo was creating a base beyond the campaign,” said the leader.

“Our issue was that Khumbudzo could not convene the province as she was not structured. The reason we did not attend was that Khumbudzo elected not to use structures in the region. Instead she used a guy called Buti Moagi.”

He said Ntshavheni claimed CR17 had no funds because it was a “religious” campaign aimed at stopping state capture.

The ANC leader added that unhappiness with Ntshavheni’s conduct was the reason Waterberg boycotted a CR17 Cadres Forum that she had organised at Karibu lodge, near Tzaneen, before Nasrec, addressed by Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu.

Moagi could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

A branch leader from Peter Mokaba region said they boycotted the Karibu meeting for the same reasons.

“We feel betrayed because people were not honest with us. Some of us had used our own salaries to assist this campaign, not knowing that there was money which had been allocated for this project,” he said.

“Now it’s like those co-ordinators used this programme to enrich themselves. They used the name of the president to enrich themselves.”

The secretary said the conduct of Ntshavheni and other campaign managers has divided the CR17 camp in Limpopo even though rival factions were united behind Ramaphosa.

A branch secretary from Tembisa in Ekurhuleni said they did not receive a cent for supporting Ramaphosa, because they had been told that only Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s campaign had the funds.

“Those who raised money in the name of branches and used it to enrich themselves must account. They must deal with their own mess,” he said.

He said even though they were disappointed, they did not regret supporting Ramaphosa because they did so to stop state capture and block former president Jacob Zuma from turning the ANC into a dynasty.

A branch member from Alexandra said they were told “there is no money”.

“This thing of co-ordinators getting rich has been happening since 1994, it’s not new. People get rich from the campaign period, while others walk away poor. I know people who bought cars cash from the campaign money.”

A businessman from Mpumalanga said: “They used and dumped me like a used condom. My company was used as a conduit for CR17 campaign money to some comrades in the province. Now I’m still here and unemployed with no tenders that I was promised while some of the people I was campaigning for President Ramaphosa with have government jobs. My heart is broken and I didn’t see it coming.”

Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, whose KwaZulu-Natal region had sent one the biggest CR17 delegations to the elective conference at Nasrec, confirmed that branches in his region did not get any money.

“We were doing this thing for the ANC, not because we were expecting money. Whether there was R2bn or R3bn, we received nothing, we were not expecting money.”