A heated meeting is on the cards on Monday at Luthuli House, where ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is expected to meet Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula for the first time after a public spat.
On Tuesday, Mbalula, while speaking from North West province, where he had gone to unveil a bridge, confirmed that he had been summoned to Luthuli House (ANC national headquarters) to explain his tweets this week.
The tweets were sparked by a march on Monday, by MKMVA members to Luthuli House and Gauteng’s Premier David Makhura’s office, demanding that Mbalula be arrested for allowing the infrastructure of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to rot.
That angered Mbalula, who tweeted that the leaders of the march – Carl Niehaus and Kebby Maphatsoe – were “thugs” masquerading as former MK soldiers. In the process, he dragged in Magashule – who he claimed had suspiciously employed Niehaus to work at the ANC.
Mbalula fired another shot at Magashule and Niehaus yesterday, saying the latter was obsessed with “insulting” President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“There is a man employed at Luthuli House, his job is to march every time there is a problem,” he said in reference to Niehaus.
Magashule responded to the accusations yesterday in Durban, shortly after meeting with disgruntled members of the KZN MKMVA.
While addressing the ex-liberation soldiers, Magashule, while refraining from naming Mbalula, did make reference to his utterances. At some point, he said those who undermine the MKMVA, and their role in liberating the country, were factional and seeking to aid the enemy who wants to divide the party.
“You are important, MK is important. Those who have not fought for freedom, those who don’t know MK and the contribution of Umkhonto we Sizwe in our Struggle, will always undermine MK,” he said.
Those in the crowd later shouted and said they knew that he was referring to Mbalula who, on Monday, questioned some members of the MK and their role in the fight against apartheid.
Later, Magashule was asked by the media regarding the utterances of Mbalula and the insinuation that he uses Niehaus to attack Ramaphosa.
He said members of the ANC must address their grievances by using their internal mechanisms.
“Members of the ANC, including Mbalula, if they have issues, we are pleading with them to raise matters internally. All of us must behave in that way because that’s how the ANC works, we raise matters internally,” Magashule said.
He added that there are times when he is “not happy” but, in order for him to set an example within the party, he raises his discomfort internally.
“We will engage with comrade Mbalula, he is a member of the national working committee, I can’t engage him publicly,” he added.
He denied that he personally employed Niehaus.
“Carl Niehaus has been employed by the ANC, I am the secretary-general, he has been there for years. What is the problem?” he responded.
Maphatsoe, who was also part of the meeting with the MKMVA members held in Durban, was asked about Mbalula’s utterances. He said the minister “insulted us” and challenged him to prove that they are corrupt, as Mbalula alleged.
“In our language, Sesotho, there is a saying that says dogs bark at a moving vehicle and ignore the stationary one. So, I didn’t expect comrade Mbalula, as an NEC (national executive committee of the ANC), to insult us, especially members who fought for this freedom. We take offence, we take exception, and the ANC will engage with him. We have got our own programme to engage with comrade Mbalula,” Maphatsoe said.