'ANC first, South Africans last' - Inside Fikile Mbalula & Herman Mashaba's spicy war of words

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says Herman Mashaba is 'oversimplifying' his recent tweet about where his allegiances lie.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says Herman Mashaba is 'oversimplifying' his recent tweet about where his allegiances lie.
Image: Sunday Times

“'I owe my allegiance to' must not be oversimplified by you to mean 'I am less of a patriot'.”

These are the words of transport minister Fikile Mbalula, who recently had a spicy exchange with ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba on social media over patriotism.

The twar started when the minister commented on Orlando Pirates and those who change sides when their team is faces challenges.

Mbalula made the statement before Orlando Pirates' game with Black Leopards on Sunday, where the team suffered a 2-0 loss.

“I've been a Pirates supporter through thick and thin. Please stay with your club, please,” said Mbalula.

Mbalula compared his allegiance to Pirates to that of his loyalty to the ruling party, the ANC, saying it will never change, even when he finds himself at odds with some comrades within the party.

“My allegiance is to the ANC, not to individuals and it will never change. My allegiance to the ANC will not change because at a given point in time I find myself at odds with my comrades. I am loyal to the ANC, not individuals. ANC is my team for life.”

Mbalula explained that even when he was defeated by Gwede Mantashe for the position of general secretary in 2012, he took the loss and worked with the elected leadership at that time.

Mashaba weighed in on Mbalula's statement, saying it was a “problem”.

“ANC first, South Africans last,” said Mashaba.

Mbalula clapped back, telling Mashaba that they both “belong to this country” and that he was “oversimplifying” the issue .

“At least I can speak for myself, I am a patriot. My allegiance is to the ANC as my political home. 'I owe my allegiance to' must not be oversimplified by you to mean 'I am less of a patriot',” Mbalula told Mashaba.

Mashaba responded, telling Mbalula that “actions will always speak louder than words”.

“Don't trust people because of what they say; trust them because of what they do,” he said.


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