Carl Niehaus and Fikile Mbalula, both representatives of the
African National Congress (ANC), are at each other’s throats, with the conflict
playing out on social media.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s indelible influence on the
ruling party’s electoral conference has become a double-edged sword. While the
ANC lost support and ended up with its lowest ever tally, the situation,
according to political analysts, allies and adversaries alike, would have been
much worse if it wasn’t for Ramaphosa and his Thuma Mina brigade.
Ace Magashule – the ‘great divider’
Factional division and corruption, mutually inclusive issues
which plague the ANC, formed the target of Ramaphosa’s campaign. In the runup
to the general election, the leader of the ruling party promoted an ethos of
political unity and promised to rid the ANC of corrupt cadres. The notion that
Ramaphosa saved the ANC from a crushing electoral defeat has, once again, sown
seeds of division amongst the party’s executive structures.
The pre-electoral reprieve of apparent unity came crumbling
down before the votes were fully counted. While conducting an impromptu media
briefing at the Electoral Commission headquarters on Friday, ANC Secretary
General, Ace Magashule, downplayed Ramaphosa’s influence on the outcome.
“Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa is not the candidate premier. It’s about the ANC, not the individual. The ANC has never been about an individual.”
The ANC’s Head of Elections, Fikile Mbalula, was noticeably perturbed
by Magashule’s comments. During a media briefing, which followed the Secretary
General’s problematic proclamations, Mbalula hit back, saying:
“Don’t be allergic about Ramaphosa. He is your president.
Ramaphosa was a game-changer. He [Magashule] knows that.”
Despite being lambasted by party supporters for his ‘divisive
rhetoric’, Magashule has refused to repent for his comments on Ramaphosa. Mbalula
remains equally defiant.
The factional battle lines have been redrawn.
Carl Niehaus versus Fikile Mbalula
Hmmm so this young chap, Mr. Fearfokkol 🙄, @MbalulaFikile, has gone & blocked me. He seems to fear much, especially engagement about his blatant opportunism, careerism & lack of repect for his seniors, such as the SG of the ANC, comrade @Magashule_Ace. Talk about real cowardice! pic.twitter.com/q1SB8GMIrz
— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) May 15, 2019
Carl Niehaus, controversial figurehead of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), who accompanied both Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma on the campaign trail in KwaZulu-Natal, has hit back at Mbalula. Following the public spat between Mbalula and Magashule, Niehaus weighed in with a statement of his own:
“Comrade Mbalula is indulging in a nonsensical narrative. I am glad that our SG dismissed his utter nonsense statement that the ANC vote would have gone down to 40% if President Ramaphosa was not elected president of the ANC.”
On Wednesday morning, Niehaus took to Twitter to announce
that he had been ‘blocked’ by Mbalula, ostensibly, because of his earlier
statement condoning Magashule’s rebuttal. Niehaus hit back fiercely, saying:
“Hmmm so this young chap, Mr Fearfokkol, Fikile Mbalula, has gone & blocked me. He seems to fear much, especially engagement about his blatant opportunism, careerism & lack of repect [sic] for his seniors, such as the SG of the ANC, comrade Ace Magashule. Talk about real cowardice!”
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who also poked light-hearted fun at Mbalula earlier in the week, shared Niehaus’ heavy-worded retort on his own Twitter page. After a strong electoral showing, the EFF leader is likely enjoying the current embattlements facing the ruling party, using Twitter as a platform to expose the depths of disunity within the ANC.
Mbalula and Hanekom hit back
Carl, let’s rather talk about the money you took from people with your story about having bone marrow cancer. A Deputy Minister even went to the funeral of your mother, only to discover that she was still alive. https://t.co/1gRCKsHNng
— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) May 15, 2019
Derek Hanekom, the Minister of Tourism, also jumped into the fray, lambasting Niehaus, saying:
“Carl, let’s rather talk about the money you took from people with your story about having bone marrow cancer. A Deputy Minister even went to the funeral of your mother, only to discover that she was still alive.”
You are a crook what the hell you doing at luthuli house is still a mystery to us now that we are done with elections we must deal with you .
— Mr Fearfokkol | Forever Young (@MbalulaFikile) May 15, 2019
Mbalula also hit back at Niehaus, questioning the MKVA leaders’ credentials, calling him a fraudster and a crook, saying:
“You are a crook what the hell you doing at luthuli house is still a mystery to us now that we are done with elections we must deal with you.
This guy is well known crook he is employed at our head office how come njani? Fraudster.”