Jacob Zuma's 'hidden hand' in Cyril Ramaphosa plot
Former president and ANC's Ace Magashule in secret meetings to plan opposition ATM
Former president Jacob Zuma and his ally, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, have been directly linked to the formation of a new opposition party, the African Transformation Movement (ATM).
This is alleged in an explosive affidavit deposed by the suspended general secretary of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC), Buyisile Ngqulwana. The council is behind the ATM's formation.
The religious body claims to have 30-million members - and the ATM, whose public face is former media owner Mzwanele Manyi, aimed to use its base in those churches to cause a poll upset.
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The affidavit details "consultation sessions" held with Zuma at his homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, and with Magashule at Luthuli House to discuss the formation of an alternative party to an ANC led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.Zuma's hand in the formation of the party has been the subject of speculation in ANC circles. Now, for the first time, Ngqulwana's affidavit links him directly to its formation.The affidavit was drawn up in support of an urgent application by the SACMCC to the Electoral Court to challenge both the registration of the ATM as a political party and its intention to contest the election.In the affidavit, Ngqulwana puts Zuma and Magashule at the centre of the formation of the council and the new party.Zuma even linked the council with Venda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana when the SACMCC indicated an interest in acquiring doomed VBS Mutual Bank.The bank was going to be used to fund the election campaign of the party that would take on a Ramaphosa-led ANC.Ngqulwana says in his affidavit that the SACMCC was established in December 2017 after the ANC's Nasrec conference, and immediately mapped out a plan for a formation that would weaken the ANC and "could become the defender of former state president JG Zuma".
"During this period as general secretary of the council [I had] many consultation sessions with ANC leaders, particularly former state president JG Zuma (meeting at Nkandla residence), secretary-general of the ANC Ace Magashule, including a meeting at Luthuli House, towards the launch of the council," Ngqulwana writes.
Questions sent to Zuma's spokesperson, Vukile Mathabela, were not answered.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe - responding on behalf of the party and Magashule - dismissed the claims. "The ANC has never sat in any meeting and sanctioned the establishment of alternate political parties. The secretary-general has been hard at work doing organisational work, campaigning so that we emerge victorious after May 8," said Mabe.
Ngqulwana says the council was also instructed by Magashule to travel to the Free State to meet premier Sisi Ntombela "to engage on various discussions and conduct a spiritual ceremony" and receive some donations of blankets.
He says the council was established by six main churches, which include the Zion Christian Church, the Shembe Church and the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ.
The council, he says, decided to establish a working structure to represent the interests of its members and a political desk to interface with government and political parties from time to time. As a result, they formed a political party - the African Transformation Congress (ATC) - but not with the intention of contesting elections.
In April 2018, the ATC applied for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), but this was rejected on the basis that a political party with a similar name and logo, the ATM, already existed.
Ngqulwana accuses the ATM of having registered as a party using the constitution and documents of the ATC.
He claims that it was Magashule who advised that the letter "C" be replaced by the letter "M" for the purposes of registering the ATM to participate as a political party. This was done in haste to be able to apply to contest elections and destabilise the ANC.
"For all intents and purposes, the ATM was a proxy vehicle for JG Zuma and Ace Magashule going forward," he says.
Ngqulwana also claimed to have held meetings with ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala, who he said expressed concern at the "lack of inclusiveness" of the draft constitution of the ATC. Zikalala denied meeting anyone from the ATM.
"This is pure lies and fabrication," he said.
Ngqulwana further claimed that the drafting of the ATM constitution was led by ANC MP Loyiso Mpumlwana in August 2018. Mpumlwana denied this.
"That's not true. I've been a loyal member of the ANC for 53 years. I will never leave the ANC," he said.
Ngqulwana told the Sunday Times that he and other council members met Zuma four times at Nkandla in the course of 2018. He said Zuma was keen on them separating the ATC from the SACMCC.
In another meeting, Zuma referred them to the Venda king after the council indicated that it intended to use the vast resources of its members to acquire VBS Mutual Bank.
The plan was for the council to advise the churches to encourage their members to invest at least R500 each in VBS so that the bank would once again become liquid.
"When VBS was facing financial problems, he [Zuma] arranged a meeting. I went to see the Venda king, we had a plan as a council to rescue VBS so that we can have the money for campaigning for elections," said Ngqulwana.
He said that after meeting the king at his house in Johannesburg, Ramabulana referred them to Maanda Manyatshe, who was VBS chair at the time.
Manyatshe confirmed he met with the council but said it did not have sufficient funds to inject into VBS.
ATM spokesperson Mandisa Mashiya declined to comment, saying the party is in the process of filing papers responding to the Electoral Court application.