The call that made Malusi Gigaba quit
Home affairs minister 'resigned' only after being ordered to
Former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba did not resign voluntarily, but was pushed by the ANC to fall on his sword.
The Sunday Times can reveal that Gigaba tendered his resignation after receiving a call from ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte on Tuesday.
Ramaphosa is said to have informed Gigaba about a decision of the ANC's top officials that he should resign.
Gigaba was meeting former ANC Youth League leaders at Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina's Alberton home when he received the call.
Gigaba's resignation caught some of his backers by surprise as he had insisted that he would wait for Ramaphosa to fire him.
ANC insiders say even after Masina pleaded with him to vacate his office, Gigaba was not convinced. It was only after receiving a call from Ramaphosa that he tendered his resignation.
"His hands were tied. Refusing to resign would have amounted to a direct defiance of the ANC," said an ANC insider.
Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Khusela Diko, would not comment on whether Ramaphosa requested him to resign.
"The issue is that minister Gigaba resigned and the president accepted his resignation in line with his [constitutionally granted] prerogative to appoint and remove members of cabinet," she said.
"The minister resigned voluntarily and we would not wish to speculate on any other discussions which may or may have not taken place ahead of his decision."
Duarte confirmed calling Gigaba but denied instructing him to resign.
"I spoke to Malusi on Tuesday about general things. I was concerned about him … I can call any member of the NEC," she said.
Gigaba was under pressure to resign after the Constitutional Court refused to hear his application to overturn a court decision that was in favour of Fireblade Aviation - a company owned by SA's richest family, the Oppenheimers. The North Gauteng High Court had ruled that Gigaba lied under oath when he told the court that he had not approved Fireblade Aviation's VVIP terminal at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, reached the same conclusion last month and gave Ramaphosa until last Wednesday to act against Gigaba.
Ramaphosa's call came on the eve of Mkhwebane's deadline.
Gigaba arrived in Durban yesterday, where they were expected to join the KwaZulu-Natal ANC campaign trail.
The police withdrew two officers and one vehicle from Gigaba's Gauteng security detail immediately after he was removed from office. He is now being protected by two bodyguards with one vehicle.
The Sunday Times understands that when Gigaba arrived in Durban, he was met by two bodyguards who were without a car. His allies accused police minister Bheki Cele of being behind the decision to cut Gigaba's security. They said it was "malicious" as it was done without a security assessment.
Cele's spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, denied that Gigaba's security detail had been reduced. "All that he had is still as is, for the next month," said Serero.
Gigaba's allies have lobbied ANC structures, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal, to back him.
Events will be organised to give Gigaba a platform to "tell his side of the story".
At a meeting in Durban on Tuesday, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli is said to have urged party members and leaders to "welcome Gigaba with open arms".
"We were told to welcome him and work with him. Ntuli said we must not judge him [Gigaba] ... and that he will be given a platform to do the work of the ANC," said an ANC provincial executive member who asked not to be named.
Contacted for comment, Ntuli said: "Yes, he [Gigaba] made a mistake - and he has resigned to show humility - and should now be allowed to do organisational work."
There were attempts to convince the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal to come out publicly in support of Gigaba. However, insiders said his strategy to resist calls to step down had irked some of his sympathisers.
"You can't say you won't resign . and a week later write a letter of resignation. Who is going to trust you afterwards?" said an ANC leader in KwaZulu-Natal.
A defiant Gigaba told the media two weeks ago that he would not voluntarily step down, and suggested that his peers would rise to defend him should he be pushed.
The KwaZulu-Natal leader said: "You don't pre-empt the ANC. ... If the ANC can remove [Jacob] Zuma, who are you? He [Gigaba] dug his own grave." Additional reporting by Zimasa Matiwane