ANC gives Carl Niehaus until 4pm to explain why he should not be fired – but he says the deadline is 'draconian'
The ANC has taken the fight to Carl Niehaus, telling him that he had until 4pm on Thursday to explain why he should not be fired.
This comes after Niehaus earlier on Thursday threatened to file criminal charges against the ANC top six, which includes party president Cyril Ramaphosa, on behalf of Luthuli House staff over the nonpayment of salaries and UIF fees.
He later sent another statement, saying court processes would be held off until negotiations between staff and managers had been concluded.
In a letter from ANC general manager Febe Potgieter, which TimesLIVE has seen, Niehaus is given the 4pm deadline to state reasons why he shouldn't be fired — failing which, his employment would be terminated.
But Niehaus took exception to the letter, saying that the short time frame given to him effectively amount to a constructive dismissal.
Potgieter says in the letter that Niehaus has not done anything to distance himself from the statement, which also invited the media to witness him laying theft, corruption and fraud charges against the top six.
“At the time of writing this letter you have not distanced yourself from the press release which has your name and number. As your employer, the ANC would like you to provide it with the reasons why it should not summarily dismiss you.
“You have until 4pm this afternoon to furnish the ANC (through the office of the general manager) with the requested reasons and a failure to do so will result in the immediate termination of your employment contract without further notice,” Potgieter says in the letter.
This is not the first time Niehaus has found himself at odds with his organisation and employer, the ANC.
He was suspended from the party in July for bringing it into disrepute over his remarks outside the home of former president Jacob Zuma where he, representing the disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, essentially threatened violence ahead of Zuma's arrest.
In the letter, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte told Niehaus he was suspended with immediate effect as the party believed he would continue with acts of misconduct.
Niehaus has seemingly done exactly that, as he has now threatened to lay charges against the party on behalf of the staff.
We find the behaviour of Carl, who appears more on public and social media platforms, to be divisive, opportunistic and devoid of revolutionary discipline.ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said he had been told by staff that Niehaus was not representing them. He said Niehaus was divisive, opportunistic and anti-ANC.
“The latest is his personal statement purported to be made on behalf of ANC staff announcing that he would be laying criminal charges regarding the salary matter,” Mabe said on Thursday.
“The ANC has interacted with staff representatives and [they] have unequivocally confirmed that Carl Niehaus does not represent them nor does he have the mandate to act on their behalf. His desperate lust for publicity and his latest withdrawal of the said fraudulent statement does not augur well for Carl’s self-claimed credentials as a decorated freedom fighter.”
Mabe said the ANC would be taking action against Niehaus, whom he accused of bringing the party into disrepute. He said Niehaus has been consistently attacking and undermining the ANC under the leadership of Ramaphosa.
“We find the behaviour of Carl, who appears more on public and social media platforms, to be divisive, opportunistic and devoid of revolutionary discipline.
“Coincidentally, Carl has elected to apply the tactics of one desperate opposition party lacking a clear programme for the upcoming local government elections and pinning their hopes on a liquidated ANC. Carl had initially and consciously chosen to follow the DA's example and leadership in laying charges against an organisation he claims to be his own.
“He is most welcome to share with the public his most recent official duties as an employee deserving of compensation,” Mabe said.
Responding to the letter, Niehaus took issue with the short time frame he was given to respond to the party.
“The threat to terminate my employment with the ANC without further notice, and without a disciplinary hearing is illegal,” he said. “The short notice of a mere two-and-a-half hours to provide reasons why I should not be dismissed summarily is draconian, and most unreasonable. It is contrary to all the laws of natural justice. It is my contention that this is constructive dismissal.”
Niehaus confirmed that he and other employees had intentions of laying criminal charges against the ANC top six.
The intimidatory sledge hammer that you have now brought out against me is intended to intimidate any other ANC staff members from taking a similar course of action.Carl Niehaus
“I am acting in my personal capacity as an employee, and also together with other employees, who I cannot name as they will obviously be similarly victimised and subjected to intimidation,” he said.
“I am convinced that the draconian, illegal measures threatened in your letter, and the unfounded allegations contained in the media statement by comrade Mabe, are intended to intimidate other ANC staff members, who are similarly considering to lay criminal charges.
“You are no doubt aware that the possibility of such a course of action by the Staff Association is under discussion. The intimidatory sledge hammer that you have now brought out against me is intended to intimidate any other ANC staff members from taking a similar course of action.”
Niehaus also defended his stance, saying that the nonpayment of the pension and provident fund, among others, negatively affected lives of employees.
“I remain convinced that in having announced that I, and some other ANC staff members, intend to lay criminal charges, we are exercising our rights as citizens, and employees of the ANC, to seek any possible crime to be investigated. In fact, I would be amiss not to do so once I became of aware of apparent criminal activity.
“In this instance the evidence of such crimes is inter alia contained in the deductions for UIF, Provident Fund and PAYE on our monthly ANC payslips.
“You, and the rest of the senior management of the ANC, including the national office bearers, as well as the respective statutory bodies responsible for administering the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act, the Pension Fund Act and the SA Revenue Service, are well aware of all of this.”