Fikile Mbalula. Picture: GCIS
Fikile Mbalula. Picture: GCIS

The animosity between ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula and party secretary-general Ace Magashule continued this week when the two took potshots at each other in front of the media.

On Thursday, Mbalula said the governing party may have sunk to 40% and lost the general elections, if ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa had not won the party’s presidential race at Nasrec in Johannesburg in 2017.

Speaking to journalists at the IEC national results operations centre in Pretoria on Friday, Magashule blasted Mbalula saying he was talking “nonsense” and stressed that the voters were electing the ANC and not an individual.

Mbalula did not take Magashule’s remarks lying down, saying the ANC secretary-general was not responding to him but to a “figment of his imagination”.

In the build-up to the ANC’s national elective conference in 2017, Mbalula took to social media and posted that Magashule was definitely unsuitable for the position he held at the time, as Free State premier, arguing that “the man will finish what is remaining of our movement. He will kill it”.

Author and investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburg’s Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, accuses Magashule of ruthless gangsterism, rampant corruption and using undemocratic means to cling to power in the Free State.

Responding to Magashule, Mbalula insisted that Ramaphosa and the elective conference were game changers for the ANC.

“That’s what I said, I didn’t say Cyril led the campaign alone. He was not responding to Mbalula, he was responding to the figment of his imagination, not me. He thought that I said Ramaphosa alone led the campaign, I didn’t say that, I said he was a game changer because he was an important piece of the campaign,” Mbalula said.

“Nasrec became a game changer because it ushered in a new dawn. The ANC would have gone down and down if we were where we were before Nasrec. He added that Ramaphosa’s victory allowed “the people to believe us when we said we will fight corruption and state capture”.

Referring to the polls that projected a reduced majority for the ANC, Mbalula said the governing party, which was at 57.73% after 94.6% of the national vote had been counted on Friday afternoon, would not need coalition partners to govern SA.

“Now we are above 50%. They said we won’t constitute a government. That’s why (other) political parties constructed a narrative that they are going to be future governments,” said Mbalula.

“There was mushrooming of political parties who believed that they can crunch numbers together and push the ANC into a coalition government. All of that has failed. We’ve got a majority to govern this country.”

He said the number of ministers serving in the cabinet would be reduced, and that the ANC would give Ramaphosa a mandate to that effect. “We live in the harshest conditions of our economy, and we need competent and fast-moving individuals to be in cabinet,” he said.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has said it does not make economic, financial and political sense to have a national executive comprising more than 70 ministers and deputy ministers.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za