A second report claiming that Vice President Paul Machattel is profiting from properties controlled by other people indicates he may have questions to answer about how he manages his money and how he finances his lifestyle. At the same time, there is evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa is willing to be firm in defending his position against Machatel’s supposed presidential ambition.
Several weeks ago, there were whispers among the perpetually chattering classes that Mashatel was He prepares to somehow take power from Ramaphosa. He would meet with investors and business leaders, and brainstorm ideas. he had Until he got married again While some believe that it is an attempt to redefine his personal image.
Much has changed since then.
First came the original News 24 report suggests Mashatile regularly used the luxury properties owned by Edwin Sodi And others who deal with the state. Mashatel angrily He denied any wrongdoing He said it had no influence on government contracts.
Then Mshatel said on the weekend City Press that there was a “plot to overthrow him” by August. This led to Ramaphosa At a press conference on SundayThere is absolutely no evidence or substance for that.
Finally, on Wednesday, News 24 Post another powerful reportalleging that Mshatel lives in a R37 million property owned by a company controlled by his son and son-in-law.
Perhaps to oversimplify a lengthy report, News 24 It indicates that Mashatile Thabiso’s son and son-in-law Nceba Nonkwelo are involved in businesses that took loans from entities controlled by the Gauteng provincial government. The report also says that in one case their company received a loan from the Gauteng Partnership Fund to build student accommodation, but no construction work was carried out.
Serious questions to answer
The inference many might draw from this is that two people associated with Mshatel benefited from a government loan while he was benefiting from their ownership of a luxury property.
All of this raises serious questions for Mashatel to answer.
Some voters will want to know where all that money comes from. How could someone, who only claims a government stipend, live in a massive home that included “a glass-enclosed underground wine cellar, a floor-to-ceiling library, and a swimming pool”? It also has a “fully self-sustaining supply of electricity, water and gas”.
Certainly, the obvious accounts indicate that Machatel is not telling the truth when he claims his salary is his only source of income.
The fact that he feels a response is necessary is perhaps underscored by a statement by Lebogang Maile, Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Infrastructure. Miley says he is ordering an immediate investigation into the money the Gauteng Partnership Fund lent to Nonkwelo Investments, one of the companies named in the News 24 a report.
It is known that Miley is close to Mashatel. They, along with Miley’s brother Mike Mile and ANC NEC member Nkenke Kekana have long-term relationships dating back many years.
Lebougang Maile must hope that this investigation will clear Machattel of any wrongdoing.
If last week Mshatel felt he was the victim of a “plot to overthrow me,” it’s possible he now feels actively persecuted.
Ramaphosa’s strong response
That makes Ramaphosa’s response, during his press conference on Sunday, all the more interesting.
First, there was a decision by Ramaphosa to take questions in such a forum. Given that there were allegations that he had lost interest in ruling, it was a politically assertive act. It has shown how much power there is in the presidency, and that he is able to control the narrative simply by the position he holds.
But also, his statement: “There is no thought, no plan, no idea at all that such a thing would exist [a plot to remove Mashatile] He could be in the works. My head should have been examined for the appointment and then removal of the Vice-President, unless the party so decided. There is no evidence or substance for that at all,” that is assertive in itself. She notes that Ramaphosa thinks Machattel is talking nonsense.
He also said that he had met Mshatel to discuss this matter and that he would meet with him again to discuss the matter.
Some might take this as a presidential rebuke. Not only does Ramaphosa say there is no evidence of such a plot, but it also requires a second discussion with Machattel about it.
While Machatel may feel persecuted, the truth may lie in a different direction.
If what is reported is true, and the conclusion drawn from News 24Whether Machatel’s report is correct (Machatel benefited from a government loan through his family), he most likely finds the glow of the national spotlight very different from the darkened past he enjoyed in Gauteng.
Echoes of Mapusa and Magashule
This may resonate with what happened to other politicians who transitioned from provincial to national leadership.
When David Mabuza was elected deputy leader of the ANC in 2017 on the basis of his political leadership of Mpumalanga, he made front page of New York times. It published a detailed report claiming that he was responsible for corruption in the education administration in that province.
Oddly enough, it is He did not issue a complete denial of claims.
Ace Magashule had a similar experience. He was able to control political events in the Free State, but after his elevation to the position of General Secretary of the ANC, journalists focused on his dealings in that province. that reporting and Book publishing Gangster statetogether with Lots of evidence in the Zondo Commission This led to him facing criminal charges, followed by his suspension and then his expulsion from the party.
This suggests that Machattel may have benefited from his political position in Gauteng, but now that he is vice president the lights are much brighter.
All of this is likely to have an impact on the internal dynamics of the ANC.
Those who support Mashatile and believe he can take over Ramaphosa in the near future will likely change their worldview.
Wherever he goes, Machattel will be faced with questions about his finances and lifestyle.
While the life he leads may not differ much from Ramaphosa’s (both appear to make no use of the government facilities at their disposal, both have access to luxury real estate, both may enjoy uninterrupted electricity, a wine cellar, etc.), there is one fundamental difference.
The source of Ramaphosa’s wealth is well known and has been reported in company reports for 20 years. While he still faces criticism of being a rich man and living a very different life from almost all South Africans, there is no doubt about the source of the funds.
Spots on a supposedly clean reputation
But Machatel doesn’t seem to have a public explanation for how he finances his lifestyle.
Also, Machatel’s allies may have hoped that the Vala Vala scandal would fundamentally weaken Ramaphosa. While that is still possible, Mshatel himself now has his own scandals to worry about.
It is no longer a matter of replacing a leader devastated by the Vala Vala scandal with another of supposedly clean reputations.
Given that the leader of a party plays a crucial role in the election campaign and the ANC will be under more pressure than ever before, it may be difficult for someone with questions hanging over his head to hold the highest office in the ANC.
Of course, a leader with huge questions to answer was able to hold the highest office in the ANC before. Jacob Zuma was elected leader and then became head of the Salvation Army, although the court found Shabir Sheikh guilty of paying him a bribe.
But our society has changed since then. In the aftermath of the era of state capture, voters are less likely to accept the argument that someone is “innocent until proven guilty.”
Then there is Mashatile’s major weakness.
The big difference between him and Zuma at this point is that there is no evidence of a large national audience supporting him. While, of course, Machattel enjoys the support, without which he would never have been elected to the position of ANC deputy leader, there is very little evidence of broad support for him to take the top job.
At least at this point.
Meanwhile, Mashatile will have to find a way to counter these reports. If they are not correct, he will have to show that they are incorrect. Or actually explain how his lifestyle is funded.
If he fails to do so, he may find it nearly impossible to create a story that will help him become leader of the ANC and then President of South Africa. DM