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NELSON Mandela Bay mayor Zanoxolo Wayile is demanding that the ANC regional leadership act against a “political onslaught” by the party’s youth league, which he says has embarked on a robust campaign to oust him.
A letter written by Wayile to regional head Nceba Faku and secretary Zandisile Qupe is the latest evidence of deep divisions in the party, which is said to have hit a 20-year low.
The letter – which The Herald has seen – was sent two days after the regional general conference last month where Faku bemoaned factionalism and power struggles in the regional leadership. Faku also admitted at the conference that the ANC had hit its lowest political point in 20 years during the municipal elections in May, when it narrowly retained control of the Bay with 51.6% of the vote.
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Faku backtracked later, saying he had been quoted out of context.
However, an ANC member, who was at the closed session of the RGC conference yesterday, said Wayile was angry about the attempts to get rid of him.
“At the meeting, the mayor stood up and said: ‘I just want all of you to know that I am not afraid of anyone. I know there are attempts to bad-mouth me and the chief whip, but I will not back down’,” the member said.
In his letter, Wayile said he was aware of a smear campaign led by the regional youth league and wanted regional leaders to confirm or deny whether they had sanctioned it.
Wayile said some ANC Youth League regional leaders had “taken it upon themselves to stop at nothing … spearheading a smear campaign aimed at assassinating my political character and that of ANC chief whip Feziwe Sibeko”.
“I have been reliably informed that comrade Sicelo Mleve, Xolani Mgxotheni and some others within the structures of the [youth] league are at the helm of this campaign, having recently convened [a] series of formal and informal meetings in Motherwell wherein young people were agitated against the executive mayor and the chief whip,” he wrote.
Wayile said the league was fighting his decision not to appoint Sithembele Vatala as the municipal manager. He also said the league was opposed to the findings of the Kabuso forensic report which fingered Faku in dodgy land deals.
Mleve is the league’s regional secretary and a youth coordinator in the office of the mayor.
Mgxotheni is a researcher at the office of the chief whip and deputy chairman of the ANCYL.
Wayile wrote further: “If you have commissioned it [the campaign], then what is the political reasoning for this campaign? What forces are sponsoring this campaign and what are their interests?
“Definitely, the entire movement does not stand to benefit from this. Instead, more political polarisation, tensions … will further perpetuate the political divisions that are currently crippling both the organisation and the municipality in this region.”
Wayile gave the REC until last Wednesday to respond.
“May I take this opportunity to request a comprehensive written response from [the] leadership collective [preferably the REC] as to … the appropriate steps to be taken with regards to this unwarranted political onslaught as I have many options at my disposal,” he wrote.
Mgxotheni said: “He [Wayile] is lying. I don’t know what his problem is. We have said we are not going to entertain his issues. I know about the letter that has got our names on it. But we shall wait on Standard House to summon us if there’s anything to discuss about the matter.”
Qupe said: “I have not yet received the letter, but according to the information I received from the regional secretary of the youth league [Mleve], they are the ones who have already received the letter from the mayor.”
Mleve was not available for comment. ANCYL regional leader Wandisile Jikeka said: “These allegations have been raised with us and, if they are genuine, the ANC as the mother body must investigate them. We understand that the deputy chairman [Wayile] is aggrieved.
“If there are issues he wants to raise, he can sit down with us so that we can look at them. But no meetings were held by the ANC Youth League to deal with the characters of people, and if there are people who are doing that in the name of the youth league, then the full might of the ANC must take its course.” Wayile did not respond to calls or messages left on his phone yesterday.
Additional reporting by Rochelle de Kock