Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane plans to approach the courts after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula accused her on Twitter of being a ’hired gun’, while the ANC has taken him to task for ’insulting’ Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Monday.
Durban – The ANC has raised concerns regarding a series of tweets posted by its national executive committee (NEC) member and transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, on Sunday and Monday.
The party’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, on Monday said they were concerned with Mbalula’s trending Twitter comments.
On Sunday Mbalula took to Twitter and fired volleys at Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. He tweeted that: “Mkhwebana (sic) is a hired gun not the public protector.”
It was not clear what sparked Mbalula’s comments and he did not respond to a query from Independent Media asking him to provide clarity.
However, the tweet came at a time when the ANC and its MPs are deeply divided on how to approach Mkhwebane’s pending impeachment hearing after a parliamentary panel ruled that there was prima facie evidence of incompetence and misconduct.
Yesterday, a day dedicated to celebrating women across the world, Mbalula attacked Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
It started when Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu took to Twitter and posted a picture of all seven candidates who were vying for the ANC presidency in December 2017.
Among those in the picture was Sisulu herself, Dlamini Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Jeff Radebe and former ANC president Jacob Zuma. The picture was taken shortly after all the candidates had had a dinner that was organised by Zuma, who was about to vacate the party’s presidential position.
“Oh what a night! Dinner of the Presidential hopefuls in 2017. It was a good meeting and a wonderful time for all. #throwback,” Sisulu tweeted.
Mbalula went for Dlamini Zuma and claimed that her ex-husband, Zuma, wanted to create a family dynasty.
“Zuma (Jacob) is not a Saint he was a disaster for this country big one, try me ill tell you why… Zuma organised this (the dinner) with a firm belive that his wife will win. We all got shocked Long live! David Mabuza for saving us from this monarch disaster. Viva Dabede (sic) ,” he responded to Sisulu.
In response to Mbalula’s tweet, Duarte said they would deal with the matter using their media policy.
Political analyst Protas Madlala said the attack on Dlamini Zuma appeared to be a personal matter, and that Mbalula was using Twitter to settle personal scores. He added that Mbalula was being patronising by associating Dlamini Zuma’s political success with that of Zuma.
“He is insulting her,” Madlala said.
Mkhwebane has since threatened to sue Mbalula, for what she called an unrelenting pattern of unwarranted attacks aimed at her.
Oupa Segalwe, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, said Mbalula’s behaviour was not new and Ramaphosa has been asked to act.
“Mr Mbalula and other ministers who have made contemptuous remarks about the public protector have previously been reported to the president. The request was for the president, in his capacity as head of the executive, to rein them in. It’s not clear if anything came of the request,” Segalwe said.
He added that since Mbalula did not want to back down, Mkhwebane would approach the courts.
“What is clear is that Minister Mbalula continues with this conduct, which is unbecoming of a member of the executive. The public protector will take legal steps against him,” he added.
Segalwe’s claim that he had reported Mbalula and other ministers to Ramaphosa could not be independently verified as Tyrone Seale, the acting presidential spokesperson, did not respond when asked about it.
Other ANC members who were not spared by Mbalula were MKMVA (Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association) spokesperson Carl Niehaus, and former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa, whom he called questionable figures.
This was after Niehaus reminded Mbalula that he was “a person of interest” in the murder of North West businessman Wandile Bozwana, who was gunned down in Pretoria in 2015.
“By the way, did you pay back the R1-million Bozwana loaned you for your Las Vegas frolic before he was mysteriously murdered?” asked Niehaus.
For his part, in response to Mbalula’s statement that he would not take part in the CR17 bank statement debate because it was the “most dishonest and hypocritical”, Lungisa had said: “The only reason you would not participate is because it would jeorpadise your stomach and your taxpayer funded lifestyle”.