ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule and Carl Niehaus seen at the the commission of inquiry into state capture where former president, Jacob Zuma is giving testimony. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule and Carl Niehaus seen at the the commission of inquiry into state capture where former president, Jacob Zuma is giving testimony. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU

Members of the ANC faction aligned to former president Jacob Zuma, including former cabinet ministers, nailed their colours to the mast when Zuma appeared before the state capture commission.

Their presence to support Zuma, who is at the centre of corruption and state capture allegations, mirrored the friction  within the party which threatens to derail president Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to clean out the ANC and government. 

On Tuesday, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule made a turn at the commission to express his support for Zuma.

“Like everybody I'm here. I'm here to hear what the former president says. Indeed, I do support him as a leader of the ANC,” he said.

Magashule, when asked if he shared Zuma's sentiments that the commission — which Zuma set up — was politicised, partial and out to get him, said only: “I partly know what he is talking about.” He did not expand on this.

A top Zuma lieutenant, Magashule has been placed front and centre of the fight-back campaign aimed at discrediting and undermining Ramaphosa's administration and his reform agenda.

Magashule, who is widely viewed as a Zuma proxy, is accused of seeking to undermine Ramaphosa through his actions and public comments. He scoffed at assertions that Ramaphosa had helped the ANC win the May 8 national elections, saying the voters were electing the ANC and not an individual.

He also allegedly doctored an ANC statement to include controversial remarks that the party’s national executive committee lekgotla had resolved to expand the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank to include growth and employment.

Recently, Magashule was seen to have scored a major victory in the ANC’s internal battles when he pushed for the appointment of key Zuma allies to head strategic portfolio committees in parliament. 

The Zuma allies included former North West provincial chair Supra Mahumapelo and former communications minister Faith Muthambi, who were recently appointed portfolio committee chairs for tourism, and co-operative governance and traditional affairs, respectively.

Mahumapelo has been accused of receiving bribes during his controversial tenure as premier. He resigned in May 2018 after the North West was embroiled in political turmoil, with riots and violent demonstrations against his administration.

The North West has since been placed under administration.

For her part, Muthambi, who attended the commission on crutches on Monday, stands accused of allegedly sharing confidential cabinet documents with the controversial Gupta family — friends of Zuma, who are at the centre of state capture allegations.

Former co-operative government and traditional affairs minister Des van Rooyen and deputy defence minister Kebby Maphatsoe also attended the commission on Monday.

Others who attended on Monday were Ekurhuleni mayor and ANC regional chair Mzwandile Masina, and Carl Niehaus, spokesperson of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) — vocal supporters and defenders of the former president.

Masina once reportedly said he would not serve if President Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC’s presidential race in December 2017, but backtracked on this when Ramaphosa won, beating Zuma's preferred candidate to succeed him — former AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

He has denied any wrongdoing after an investigation by AmaBhungane showed that the City of Ekurhuleni allegedly spent a staggering R1.9bn on chemical toilets over three financial years — from 2017-2019 — which enriched contractors.

On Monday, throngs of Zuma supporters including school pupils and MKMVA members sang pro-Zuma songs and danced near the state capture commission venue in Parktown, Johannesburg.

They held placards reading “Hands off Zuma”, while some wore ANC t-shirts bearing the face of a smiling Zuma.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za