Vytjie Mentor spoke at the launch of her book, 'No Holy Cows', at the Open Book Festival.
Former ANC parliamentarian, Vytjie Mentor, says South Africans need to be vigilant about the next general elections to protect democracy and avoid a “bloodbath”.

She says that the possibility of rigging the outcome of the 2019 election cannot be ruled out.

“It has happened in some countries. We have to be vigilant and not naive about these things. We have to make sure that rigging of election votes does not happen here,” Mentor said.

Speaking this week at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town where she launched her book, No Holy Cows, Mentor said despite current predictions that put the ANC’s chances of winning the 2019 general election with only a below 50% vote, the party was hell-bent on winning.

“Their arrogance is informed about a confidence that they will win, by hook or crook, that’s why we need to monitor carefully any attempts to tamper with the electronic electoral system.

“Recent reports around a tender to change the IT system around the electoral system are raising an alarm bell. The system has been working for us. If it’s not dysfunctional, why the sudden need for a change?” she asked.

Mentor warned that if elections were rigged, there would be “bloodbath”, and this had to be avoided.

She came to the attention of the country when she blew the whistle on corruption and state capture.

She told a group gathered to listen to her political journey at The Fugard Theatre that the signs of corruption in the party, she started working for as a teenager, were evident from an early stage. She also detailed her meetings with President Jacob Zuma as though they happened a short while ago.

“I first met the president in 1991 in Durban during the first elective conference of the party on South African soil.

“I was a mother of a three-month-old baby and had brought her along.

"Just before a session ended either my husband or I would run to the care facility to check on her. And I remember that as I was going to the venue a green Toyota Camry was parked just outside the entrance to the venue. A man was seated at the back and he had summoned one of the guys he was with to call me.

"After asking where I was from, I told him I was from the Northern Cape and he asked me for diamonds. My response was that he needed to speak to De Beers. But when I think about that now, it could have meant that there was a desire to make a quick buck.”

Mentor said her first meeting with the Guptas in 2010 was under the pretext that she was to meet with the president to discuss a “burning” energy-related issue.

“On a Sunday, I received a call saying that arrangements had been made for me to meet with the president to fly out to Johannesburg, but the meeting was to be held in Pretoria. I was, however, taken to a compound of houses in Johannesburg and I was told that I would be introduced to someone before being taken to Pretoria.

“I was taken to a room inside this huge house (in Saxonwold) where an Indian man was sitting behind a desk. I was shocked that he even knew details about my personal life, and the fact that he knew the agenda of my meeting with the president.

"He told me that I could be a cabinet minister if I agreed to discontinue the SA Airways flight to India”.

“I outrightly refused the offer and because I was agitated raised my voice. At that point, the president entered the room. It was as if he was listening in another room.

"I leapt to my feet out of respect for the president while the guy I was speaking to remained seated.

“The president told me not to worry, everything would be fine. He kept saying, “don’t worry, ntombazana (lady), everything will be fine, and he walked me to the car,” she said.

The president had previously denied the meeting. But Mentor said the missing link in the “genesis” of state capture was former minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad.

She said a close friend had told her how in 1994 during a campaign for people to obtain identity documents, they went to a house where they met the Guptas who asked them to arrange a meeting with the then president Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki in return for R50000 to the ANC’s election campaign. The request was relayed to Luthuli House but Mbeki rejected it outright.

However, Mentor said she was told that Pahad volunteered to meet with them.

In 1996, Pahad was the first minister to appoint a member of the Gupta family on the International Marketing Council, a body tasked with ensuring with managing the image of the country to boost confidence and investment.

But Pahad had recently told the media that he only met the Guptas in 1996 while on a state visit with Mbeki.

Asked whether she wanted to still remain a member of the ANC in light of the exposes she has made about the party, she replied: “I love my country with all my heart. But over the last few years I have been disheartened with my party. I don’t want to associate myself with the rot that is so bad and deep.”

She envisaged that the party would split resulting in coalitions among the presidential candidates or an emergence of a new “grouping” that could contest the elections.

“The ground is ready for a new grouping. There will be splits before and after the December elective conference which will be characterised by a lot of bantering and bruising”, Mentor said.

She called on civil society to be more active in the affairs of the country to defend democracy and to chart the country’s future.

“No Holy Cows is self-published as some publishers did not want to take the risk of libel,” she said.

Sunday Independent