Nomvula Mokonyane’s chequered past won’t deter her ambitions

ANC presidential hopeful Dr Zweli Mkhize gives the memorial lecture at the packed Kathlehong event that was attended by other executive hopefuls like Nomvula Mokonyane and Mzwandile Masina. Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency

ANC presidential hopeful Dr Zweli Mkhize gives the memorial lecture at the packed Kathlehong event that was attended by other executive hopefuls like Nomvula Mokonyane and Mzwandile Masina. Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency

Published Dec 11, 2022


Dubbed ‘Mama Action’, Nomvula Mokonyane made headlines for all the wrong reasons, and her rise has been attributed to her ‘political prowess’.

The former cabinet minister was accused of accepting wads of cash, groceries, and even chicken braai packs during the state capture commission. On separate occasions she made headlines when she r said cabinet ministers would defend former President Jacob Zuma with their buttocks and that she would up the South African rand shoudl it weaken.

Now Mokonyane is

And despite the political turbulence, Mokonyane has managed to convince hundreds of branches to nominate her to be a possible successor to the late Jessie Duarte, as she is poised to take over as party’s deputy secretary general position.

The State Capture Commission heard that late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson provided Mokonyane with financial and other forms of assistance because of her influence in the ANC and government circles, as the company sought to secure lucrative government tenders.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission's chair, concluded that Mokonyane had been heavily implicated in corruption and wrongdoing and recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) investigate the allegations against her further, with the possibility of pursuing criminal charges.

At the time, Mokonyane said she would take the commission’s findings under review.

Dubbed "Mama Action," the former Zuma ally is leading the race for the position against ANC organiser Febe Potgieter.

The pair are the only women to make it onto the 55th ANC conference ballot from branch nominations. The position of deputy secretary has been traditionally set aside for women.

Mokonyane said it was important to note that she had been nominated by members of the ANC.

The former minister also told Weekend Argus that while she had chosen to leave public office, it was important for her to continue with community work.

“It’s members of the ANC that decided on this, I didn’t go out and campaign to be nominated.

“I know what I have gone through, the vilification and accusations and I made a choice to move away from public office because there were so many things that were said and alleged.

“I felt that it was much more appropriate that I remain rooted among the people and communities and organisational work,” Mokonyane said.

Mokonyane’s rise to power has also been attributed to her activism and political prowess.

Sabelo Dingiswayo, a branch delegate from ward 10 in the West Rand region in Gauteng, said they had nominated Mokonyane as she had proven her commitment to the ANC and its people over the years.

"The ANC in its current state requires leaders that care and are ready to rebuild, revive, reposition and renew the ANC. There is no better person than comrade Mokonyane to do that job," Dingiswayo said.

"Many branches approached her to request her to avail and save the ANC. It is on those bases that the majority of branches have nominated her.“

He added that questions had been raised among branches on the veracity of the allegations levelled against her from her Zondo Commission.

"Angelo Agrizzi is on record saying what frustrated him with regard to Mokonyane, (was that) ‘Busasa was not benefiting anything from her’. Now we asked ourselves, what is this corrupt relationship Agrizzi wanted us to believe existed?" Dingiswayo asked.

Analyst professor Andre Duvenhage said the allegations of corruption against Mokonyane were simply her "earning her stripes."

"That is the story of the ANC. It's a form of struggle credentials; the ANC is a criminal-oriented organisation and has lost its values," Duvenhage said.

He said the party also lacked ethics and morals.

"This is endemic within the ANC, one cannot accuse the other and that has been the problem with the ‘clean-up’ campaign," Duvenhage said.

He said the same could be said about other candidates who had made it onto the party’s list of candidates.

"That is why it is so interesting to see what will happen if Ramaphosa does not step down, including Ace Magashule. The ANC does not want to act on corruption, and being corrupt in the party is not a serious offence," he said.

Another analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said Mokonyane had played her cards right by getting close to ANC members on the ground.

"It’s all about understanding the politics of the ANC, understanding the game and the rules, and then applying them to your advantage.

“What it also means is that members of the ANC say one thing and then change their mind, based on what serves their interests," he said.

Seepe said Mokonyane was also perceived as an activist by her supporters.

"Nomvula has been part of the national organising committee for elections; she has built a strong network; she is also a vivacious person and is not scarce on the ground.

“You can’t associate her with laziness; whether it’s at funerals, rallies, or marches, you will find her there. She is an activist, and that appeals to people,” Seepe said.