Suspending Carl Niehaus a warning to Ace Magashule ‒ analysts
Durban – The pending suspension of Carl Niehaus, Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson and one of Ace Magashule’s chief defenders, is a warning that the CR17 faction is slowly circling the embattled ruling party’s secretary-general, who is seen as a senior leader of the RET (radical economic transformation) faction.
This is the view of two political analysts, Ralph Mathekga and Thabani Khumalo. The two agree Niehaus is not only a foot soldier of Magashule but also his confidant to some extent.
Late last year, during a war of words with Niehaus, Transport Minister and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Fikile Mbalula publicly questioned the role of Niehaus at Luthuli House, where he works in the office of Magashule.
Mbalula alleged Niehaus was “personally employed” by Magashule, had free rein because he enjoyed his (Magashule) protection and that "there is a man employed at Luthuli House; his job is to march every time there is a problem".
This is believed to be the general view of the other faction opposed to Magashule’s presence at Luthuli House.
Making the observation on Tuesday after the ANC notified Niehaus that it intended to suspend him for lampooning deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in a personal statement he issued last week, Mathekga said the move weakened Magashule tremendously.
Niehaus has until tomorrow to show cause to the ANC’s general manager, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, why he should not be suspended with full pay pending a disciplinary hearing.
“Indeed, this is directed at Magashule. Carl is a real proponent of Magashule; actually, he is very uncompromising (when it comes to defending Magashule),” Mathekga said.
Mathekga said it was laughable the ANC acted on Niehaus yet his alleged crimes were no worse than those of the likes of Mbalula, Ekurhuleni ANC regional chairperson, Mzwandile Masina and Andile Lungisa of the ANC in the Eastern Cape who have made rowdy public statements, including on social media.
Giving an almost identical observation, Khumalo said Magashule should watch his back as his detractors were coming for him and they just wanted to first weaken his supporters.
“Definitely, I think it’s a sign that there is a war directed at Magashule. Definitely, when they start by attacking his confidants before they go for him. So I think its a part of a campaign to weaken Ace,” Khumalo said.
He added the reason why it was easy to act on Niehaus while sparing other known rebels like Masina, Mbalula and Lungisa was that Niehaus had no constituency that could back him.
“However, this (move against Niehaus) is a warning to the others that they are also coming for them,” Khumalo added.
The ANC’s NEC is expected to meet over the weekend, and later it would host its annual lekgotla. The NEC meeting is expected to be tense again after Eastern Cape Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane took a jab at Magashule and called on him to step aside after he was accused of corruption.