South Africa

Mea culpa from Mbalula unhelpful

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Well, call us totally gobsmacked: ANC secretary-general Fikile “Mbaks” Mbalula has admitted that the ruling party lied to the nation by calling Jacob Zuma’s famous R3.9 million swimming pool a “firepool” to protect the then thief-in-chief.

In a burst of frankness virtually unknown in the ANC, Mbalula confirmed what most of the world already knew… that the firepool was a fiction.

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He said the lie had backfired because it had cost people their jobs. Perhaps, if he was referring to former police commissioner Riah Phiyega, that might be correct.

She was the one originally selected by the comrades to defend this spending of government money on a luxury.

And she was thrown under the bus by the organisation’s hierarchy faster than you could say “scapegoat”, with ANC chair Gwede Mantashe and the party’s then treasurer-general, Zweli Mkhize, claiming she had misled the national executive committee.

Phiyega has been tossed into the dustbin of history but the mea culpa from Mbalula, who confessed that the story was repeated before a parliamentary committee, proves that the lie was concocted at the highest levels of the party.

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His admission certainly won’t help allay concerns that throwing up a laager of disinformation is the way the ANC’s leaders defend their chief… and that is particularly relevant to the Phala Phala saga, where President Cyril Ramaphosa was given a clean bill of ethical health by the party’s MPs in the National Assembly.

So, what was the point of Mbalula deciding not to let sleeping dogs lie? To hit back at Zuma for starting an alternative party?

If that was the intention, it would almost certainly have not worked, because the firepool lie just underlines the mendacity of the organisation.

Was it to show the ANC has turned over a new leaf? That won’t work, either.

An ethical, truthful ANC? A firepool is more believable…