‘We have electricity and coffee,’ boasts ANC while employees strike for salaries

In a defiant briefing with the media on Wednesday afternoon at the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said that only the ANC would be able to bring liberation to the people of South Africa.

He said the ruling party was “very excited” about the announcement of its 2021 local government elections manifesto, which he said head of elections Fikile Mbalula would ensure was full of “razzmatazz”.

The party was handed a lifeline by the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) after the ANC bungled the submission of its candidates in more than 90 municipalities. They will now have until the end of the month to try to get it right again in a process that was previously marred by infighting and administrative inefficiency.

The party’s financial woes have been dominating headlines, but Mabe was dismissive of this having an impact on its electoral fortunes, since apparently the party has a separate budget and separate staff for the elections.

He said the fact that numerous admin staff have not received salaries for months was a “payroll issue” and not necessarily reflective of the ANC not having “resources”.

Recently released donor funding information disclosed the Electoral Commission suggested that the DA attracted more in donations than the ANC, which five years ago appeared to boast that it had spent R1 billion on the 2016 elections.

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Mabe maintained they did have “resources” and pointed to the electric lighting at Luthuli House as an example that they were at least paying some of their bills. “We have coffee, lights. We have resources.”

While he was speaking, some staff members were still outside, protesting for their salaries.

As for the recently dismissed Carl Niehaus laying numerous charges related to fraud and theft against the ANC’s top officials, excluding the suspended secretary-general, Ace Magashule, Mabe said it was wrong to have even thought of Niehaus as an office worker at Luthuli House.

He said they had seen Niehaus “running around”, presumably to support former president Jacob Zuma and Magashule, but he apparently rarely showed himself at the office. He argued that Niehaus had never been hired officially by the ANC.

Mabe refused to be drawn on the disciplinary matter related to whether Niehaus would also be expelled as a member of the party.

Charges laid by Niehaus included contravention of pay-as-you-earn regulations, Unemployment Insurance Fund rules, the Pension Fund Act and the Tax Administration Act.

When asked about some of the most recent political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in Inanda, Durban, where three women were killed during a drive-by shooting at the weekend, Mabe suggested that two of the women had not been ANC members.

Ncami Shange, 34, Beatrice Nzama, 60, and Philisiwe Jili, 37, were shot in front of Buhlebethu Primary School on Saturday. Five others were injured and taken to hospital.

He incessantly repeated his view that the ANC was a fantastic organisation and that voters would once again support it to continue its “good work”.

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