Gunning for Mashatile: DA’s Hypocrisy, Propaganda and Power Play

Deputy President Paul Mashatile. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Deputy President Paul Mashatile. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Apr 4, 2024


By Dloze Matooane

The recent calls for Deputy President Paul Mashatile to appear before the Ethics Committee expose a disturbing trend of abusing the system and weaponising corruption allegations, the media, and parliament against targeted individuals.

In February, the Democratic Alliance (DA) "laid corruption charges" against Mashatile based on a series of News24 reports that appear meticulously crafted to tarnish his image and reputation.

What's most concerning about the DA's stance is their reliance on unproven media allegations to justify their charges. Mashatile is not the first of the 400 MPs to face such accusations from hostile media, yet the DA attempted to validate their move by claiming that his position as 'number two' in the country means he should not remain in office under such allegations.

This sets a dangerous precedent, as it suggests that any politician can be targeted and removed from office based on mere media reports, without due process or concrete evidence.

While the timing of the DA's posture could be misinterpreted as mere electioneering, the motives run far deeper. Mashatile has become a victim of the DA and the system, particularly due to the power plays and political manoeuvring silently taking place, even within the African National Congress (ANC).

The DA's actions appear to be a calculated attempt to influence the ANC's internal politics and leadership, with the ultimate goal of shaping a more favourable political landscape for themselves.

Two scenarios are unfolding on the same political chessboard. The first involves the outcome of the 2024 elections and the ideological leanings of senior ANC leaders, especially concerning potential coalitions. With polls strongly indicating that coalitions will determine the country's leadership, the DA, ANC, and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are poised to be kingmakers in any successful deal.

The DA sees an opportunity to gain a foothold in national governance, especially the cabinet, but they need an ANC leadership that is amenable to their interests.

Centre-right and arch-conservative factions within the ANC have been advocating for a coalition with the DA, and senior leaders, including President Ramaphosa, have not publicly objected. However, Mashatile has never publicly supported this position. The prevailing view within ANC corridors is that Mashatile is likely to favour an EFF coalition over the DA.

The DA and its funders cannot afford this scenario, making Mashatile a target for removal.

Just over a year ago, DA leader John Steenhuisen expressed openness to a coalition with the ANC in the event of a stalemate in the 2024 elections, but only if Ramaphosa remained its leader. This position clearly exposes the motive behind the charges against Mashatile. Regardless of the justification or cover used, it is evident that the DA is reconfiguring the ANC from the outside, weaponising corruption allegations to shape an ANC leadership palatable for a coalition.

The ANC's silence in the face of the DA's attack on its Deputy President raises serious concerns. As former Secretary General Gwede Mantashe once said: "No army allows its soldiers to be commanded by the enemy general."

Yet, the Mashatile case appears to be an instance of ANC politics being covertly directed by DA leader Steenhuisen. The ANC must not allow itself to be manipulated by external forces, particularly those with a vested interest in undermining its unity and ideological coherence.

The second scenario involves the ANC's succession battle, with Ramaphosa serving his final term. The DA is betting against the emergence of a left-aligned leader post-Ramaphosa. Removing Mashatile would be a significant win for the DA, especially as polls predict coalitions at both provincial and national levels. The DA sees an opportunity to shape the future direction of the ANC and, by extension, the country's political landscape.

After 30 years in opposition benches, the DA and its funders who run the system are eager to co-govern at the national level, because the Western Cape is showing signs of political shifts. Should an ANC-DA coalition materialise, University of South Africa Professor Boitumelo Senokoane suggests that the DA would demand the deputy presidency for Steenhuisen – another reason for targeting Mashatile. The DA's ambitions are clear, and they are willing to use any means necessary to achieve their goals, including undermining the ANC's internal processes and leadership.

The News24 propaganda against Mashatile was clearly a ruse, but that warrants a separate analysis. Mashatile is not the first deputy to face corruption allegations. Jacob Zuma and David Mabuza both faced corruption accusations, yet the DA never sought their removal with such fervour. This selective outrage exposes the DA's hypocrisy and ulterior motives.

If the ANC remains silent in the face of the DA's attack on Mashatile, it sets a dangerous precedent. Many ANC and DA MPs have had relationships similar to those for which Mashatile is accused. If this is to be criminalised or weaponised, over half of the National Assembly would fail the test. The ANC must not allow itself to be held hostage by the DA's political machinations.

Numerous ANC leaders, including those in the top seven, have spouses, partners, family, and friends who own businesses – there is nothing inherently wrong with this. The DA's attack on Mashatile is a political witch-hunt that, if allowed to proceed, could destabilise the ANC and backfire on those who believe they can benefit from it. The ANC must stand firm against this blatant attempt to manipulate its internal politics and leadership. It must not allow itself to be divided or weakened by external forces seeking to exploit its vulnerabilities for their own gain.

By standing united and resolute in defence of its leadership and principles, the ANC can emerge stronger and more focused on delivering on its mandate to the people of South Africa.

* Dloze Matooane is a former national spokesperson for the YCLSA, former national spokesperson for the Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (LIMUSA), and former international secretary of LIMUSA. He is currently an Assistant Editor of the International Magazine.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.