Mbalula must withdraw statements or resign: KZN ANC
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula's comments that he has "no time" for President Jacob Zuma were insulting and disrespectful, the ANC provinces said on Monday.
The African National Congress in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal said Mbalula had undermined the party by expressing his views through the media.
"The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has noted with severe concern, the tendency of some ANC NEC [national executive committee] members who choose to raise their concerns in the media and not in the proper platforms of the organisation," it said.
"This tendency does not only undermine the leadership of the organisation, but erodes the principles which define the political life of the ANC."
The Eastern Cape ANC agreed.
"While we accept differing views in any debate, we think comrade Mbalula has degenerated into a bad political space where he relies on insults to sustain the currency of his popularity," Eastern Cape spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said.
"While insulting President Zuma may get him in the front pages of newspapers and headlines of evening newspaper[s], or even increase volume of the mention of his name on internet search engines, in reality, it presents him as a disrespectful young man, comrade and Cabinet Minister."
Both were referring to a report in The Star on Monday in which Mbalula attacked the president and rebuffed efforts by Zuma lobbyists to "neutralise" him.
"They came to me and offered me a position to neutralise me," he reportedly said.
Mbalula claimed he was offered the post of ANC deputy secretary or a position in the NEC in exchange for abandoning his support of Zuma's competitors at the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung in December.
"They realise that they cannot survive politically. They only survive on the basis of corruption," Mbalula reportedly said.
According to the newspaper, he denied claims that he agreed to support Zuma two weeks ago at the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg.
"I have no time for Zuma. He has caused his own problems. He marries every week."
The KwaZulu-Natal ANC said Mbalula had to withdraw his comments.
"If he fails to withdraw the statements, we would suggest he resigns as an NEC member and as a sports minister," it said.
"We have observed his desperate attempts to get elected to the ANC top six in Mangaung...
"Perhaps Cde Mbalula should be reminded that in the ANC, people do not campaign for themselves, but instead are nominated by ANC structures."
Qoboshiyane said Mbalula was "acting like a child".
"Given the fact that he follows in the shoes of the expelled ANC Youth League president [Julius Malema] in insulting the president, it is clear that Comrade Mbalula's mind still thinks and acts like a child," he said.
"Minister Mbalula [must] now focus his political razzmatazz on sports infrastructure development and not on insult development."
Earlier on Monday, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj referred requests for comment to the ANC.
National ANC spokesman Keith Khoza told The Star: "It is difficult for us, as the ANC, to comment because we haven't spoken to the president, and neither did we speak to Mbalula."
"We are not even aware if the discussion between them did happen."