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Newly-elected ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s stern warning to those who refuse to toe the line

Self-proclaimed ‘Commander of Discipline in the ANC’, newly-elected secretary-general Fikile Mbalula asserted his authority, and by extension, the authority of President Cyril Ramaphosa on those party members who did not toe the party line.

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In his first press briefing as Secretary-General, alongside Pule Mabe, the feisty Mbalula gave a stern and direct warning to those who broke ranks and voted for the adoption of the Phala Phala report in Parliament recently.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and four of its MPs, including Mervyn Dirks, Supra Mahumapelo and Mosebenzi Zwane went against a party decision to vote against a report to impeach President Ramaphosa.

This move has now seen them on the receiving end of disciplinary processes within the party and analysts and insiders predicting Dlamini Zuma to be the first casualty in Ramaphosa’s imminent cabinet reshuffle.

“Discipline is going to be important,” Mbalula said on Monday night. “There is no self respecting political party that will go to Parliament and vote to impeach its own President. That decision can only be taken by the ANC. No member we have sent to Parliament will exist on his own and have his own conscience.

“If you want your own conscience, then open your own political party, not here. Here it is democratic centrally and the centre must hold. Whether you like it or not, the centre must hold,” Mbalula warned.

He said that while he has enough of an army to take on the oppositions parties such as the DA and EFF, he should not also have to deal with another army from within.

The new Secretary-General’s stern warning to those who defy the party dominated much of the late evening press briefing on Monday when he told members of the media that the ANC’s 55th National Conference was instructing them to act decisively against acts of ill-discipline.

He said that some of the members’ behaviour was “uncouth”, “un-ANC” and “disrespectful”.

“You can’t confuse anarchy and ill-discipline to revolutionary conduct or militancy.

“Anarchy is anarchy, being uncouth and disrespectful must be dealt with.

“You have an issue, you’ve got NEC members who attack the president, you’ve got NEC members who contradict themselves in public, the membership follows and then social media insulting leadership giving an opinion about everything.

“Not that ANC members must not have an opinion but the centre must hold,” Mbalula said.

His direct and stern warnings did not heed, as Mbalula further stated that he would not allow every National Executive Committee (NEC) member to speak to the media about their views and feelings.

“That is not going to happen, it’s not going to happen under my authority that I’ve been given by this conference as the custodian of the ANC constitution.

“So, I promise you one thing, there will be no lawlessness in the ANC.

“Those who are continuing with those shenanigans, they must be ready for me.

“It’s going to be me and them,” Mbalula said.

He said that the ANC must behave like a party, but it has not been conducting its business like a well-oiled machine.

He said that even a stokvel is better managed.

Mbalula also vowed to lead from the front and promised to be better disciplined himself “so no more tweeting at midnight from my side”.

kailene.pillay@inl.co.za

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