The African National Congress's (ANC's) structures in Mpumalanga on Wednesday lashed out at their former leader and ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa, after he claimed that Mpumalanga ANC chairperson David Mabuza was using a "private army" to intimidate members.
This, after Phosa claimed in an exclusive interview with eNCA that Mabuza was using a "private army" to intimidate ANC members in the province opposed to his "unity" campaign.
Phosa made the claim after a video surfaced of a group of men, some wearing caps with a camouflage motif, were dancing outside a house. At least three men pulled out firearms and fired multiple shots into the air, while they were in a crowd that included children.
At a press conference at the ANC headquarters in Nelspruit on Wednesday, ANC Mpumalanga spokesperson Sasekani Manzini said the branch nominations process, which concluded this last week, was free and fair.
Phosa also indicated that he would challenge the results – which didn't include a single vote for him as president – in court. This decision was also decried, with the structures' leaders saying he should have made use of the ANC's internal processes.
Manzini then passed the microphone to a "comrade" only introduced as Makhosini, who said he took the video in September when MKMVA members unexpectedly stopped at their house in Ermelo, as it was a house they used to hide in during the conflict between the Inkatha Freedom Party and ANC.
"Some guys are saying these guys are the army of a premier," said Makhosini. "I didn't see anything that links them to a private army."
Secretary of the MKMVA in Mpumalanga, Charles Nkuna said they found it "very disturbing" that "one of their own" lambasted them in the media.
Mpumalanga ANC Youth League secretary Pholoso Mbatsane said the ANC should institute disciplinary steps against him.
"An attack on the African National Congress and its leadership will be viewed as an attack on the African National Congress," he said.
The "Afrikaner-poet Mathews Phosa" has consistently attacked the character of "Comrade DD [Mabuza]", he said.
"We are not going to allow that," said Mbatsane. "We expect much more from Comrade Phosa as a seasoned cadre of the African National Congress."
Mbatsane also questioned Phosa's sanity.
"If needs be, the fellow must be taken to a health institution for a mental assessment. We really do not believe the man is in his right state of mind."
Phosa campaign manager Ronnie Malomane said it would be "highly impossible" to respond to Mbatsane's comments about Phosa's mental health.
Relating to the assertion that Mabuza doesn't have private militia, Malomane said they have documents in their possession that prove otherwise. He kept his cards close to his chest, as the matter is before the court.
"If I divulge some things, I might be on the wrong side of the court."
He said Phosa's critics "lack a tool of analysis" and they were supposed to answer the court case, but instead went to the media.
"The case is there. The court will tell us something."
Nonetheless, Malomane isn't worried about Phosa's campaign.
"People might say we are disgruntled. We are not like that," he said. "We are fighting corruption in the ANC. We are fighting corruption in government."