Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe has lambasted ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula for his recent utterances on the Nkandla “fire pool” matter.
On Sunday, Mbalula came under fire after he admitted that the ANC had lied to protect then president Jacob Zuma, whose R206 million Nkandla upgrade at taxpayers’ expense raised eyebrows more than 10 years ago.
“We defended former president Zuma, even going to Parliament and saying that a swimming pool is a fire pool...The Constitutional Court, chaired by Mogoeng Mogoeng, issued a judgment against Jacob Zuma, but the ANC stood by him. Zuma now says he can’t stand President Cyril Ramaphosa,” Mbalula said.
On Tuesday, Mantashe, while speaking to the media from Mbombela, said Mbalula should not have made the remarks on the “fire pool”.
Mantashe is not the only ANC member who feels Mbalula’s statements will hinder the party’s prospect in the upcoming elections, with some of the country’s leading political commentators saying this is bad for the party that wants to win elections in just over two months.
“I thought he was carried away by yourself guys, he saw your cameras he got taken away and he said things he should not have said, when you lead you count every word you say,” Mantashe said.
UCT Professor Dirk Kotze told The Star on Tuesday that Mbalula’s comments would hurt the ANC in light of the Phala Phala matter as well as the party’s recent governance failures.
“I think these utterances will become an issue in the elections. It will be a political issue that will become part of the campaigning and will be regarded as one of the reasons people are told to not vote for the ANC. It will form part of the main arguments of some of the opposition parties even though I do not think that Phala Phala itself will become part of the main issue. The other issues regarding the ANC, like its record of governance, service delivery, corruption and state capture and all of those will be quite prominent,” Kotze said.
On Monday, Independent Media reported that Mbalula’s admission has drawn criticism from opposition parties including the IFP, with its national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa saying Mbalula had merely confirmed what the whole country and the world knew: that the ANC is a corrupt syndicate which was no longer fit to govern.
Hlengwa added that the upcoming elections were an opportunity to remove the ANC and its most brazen beneficiaries from power.
“Parliament was now duty-bound to review the Nkandla-related reports and hold accountable those who were party to misleading Parliament as this was a criminal offence,” Hlengwa said.
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the admission by Mbalula that they lied to the country, to Parliament and broke the law was a grave indictment of the ANC.
“Their MPs collectively contravened their oath of office. The ANC is not fit to govern the country. This admission proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
“We hope South Africans keep that in mind when they cast their votes in the election this year,” said the DA.