Deputy President David Mabuza on Saturday laid a criminal charge of defamation at Mpumalanga’s Embalenhle police station against an ANC opponent who last week was reported to have called him a murderer and said his successor as provincial premier, Refilwe Mtshweni, was his girlfriend, allowing Mabuza to rule by proxy.
On Sunday evening both the police and Mabuza’s spokesperson, Thami Ngwenya, confirmed that a charge had been lodged against Bishop Hangwi Maumela. Ngwena said Mabuza was laying the charges in “his personal capacity”.
SAPS Mpumalanga spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi confirmed the charges had been lodged, but he would confirm by whom.
Maumela, who leads the Faith Harvest Bible Church, recently repeated long-standing allegations that Mabuza has murdered political opponents and he claimed Mtshweni was appointed Mpumalanga premier because she was Mabuza’s girlfriend.
Mabuza’s spokesperson Ngwenya said of the charges:
“This emanates from various defamatory statements this bishop has made in certain public platforms against his good name.”
She continued on Mabuza’s behalf:
“He feels that he has a responsibility of ensuring that he uses his own personal challenge to advance and deepen the principles that govern our constitutional democratic state by ensuring that no baseless and malicious statements are made against any citizen without such allegations being put to legal test by competent courts of our land.”
Ngwenya said Mabuza has faith in the country’s democratic institutions and wants to test the allegations against him to clear his name and ensure other South Africans are not vilified before their cases are tested in court.
“For long, he has to date witnessed his name being rubbished for political expediency to serve narrow and sectarian interests, whilst no one has dared put any and all the views they hold against him to legal test. Through this action, he is enabling these allegations to be put to legal test once and for all,” said Mabuza’s spokesperson.
Maumela, reached via a messaging application, did not comment.
The charges come after the New York Times recently published a front page story detailing allegations against the deputy president, questioning whether he would undermine the government’s commitment to tackling corruption.
According to the Times article, nearly 20 politicians have been assassinated in Mpumalanga over the past 20 years. In 2010, politician James Nkambule released an affidavit which he claimed was written by a Mozambican hitman alleging Mabuza hired him to kill opponents. The ANC and Mabuza have been silent on the recent allegations.
Maumela is understood to have campaigned for President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the ANC’s Nasrec conference in December 2017. He made the allegations against Mabuza at events to support David Dube and Charles Mokola’s efforts to be elected at the September provincial conference to lead the Mpumalanga ANC after Mabuza moved into the party’s national Top Six.
In May, Maumela was accused of marginalising an ANC Youth League member after she refused to sleep with him. He organised a “Zuma Must Go” march in February, which was cancelled before it took place.
Provincial party spokesperson Sasekani Manzini on Monday said the ANC would investigate Maumela for making the allegations against Mabuza. The Mpumalanga premier’s head of security and ANC member Welcome Nkuna has already laid defamation charges.
“In all honesty, chauvinists like the so-called bishop do not have a place in modern-day South Africa wherein women occupy high echelons of power based on their capabilities and commitment,” Manzini was quoted as saying last week.
Mabuza has hit back against some of his provincial opponents, but he remains quiet about the broader allegations against him. There was no press release or call for media to watch him lay his charges over the weekend, which only raises further questions about relationships within the ANC’s leadership. DM
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