ANC sacks chief whip via WhatsApp in alleged purge of Ace allies

Free State ANC leaders who were in the faction that lost the recent provincial election are living in fear of an alleged crackdown on allies of the party’s expelled secretary general, Ace Magashule and former premier Sesi Ntombela.

Party provincial chief whip Thembeni Nxangisa was allegedly the first casualty of the hit list, compiled by the provincial executive committee (PEC) leaders under premier Mxolisi Dukwana.

Nxangisa, regarded as a party veteran and the MEC of agriculture under Ntombela’s administration, was demoted to the legislature before the new ANC provincial secretary, Polediso “Dihelele” Motsoeneng decided to prematurely terminate his chief whip role on Thursday a fortnight ago.

His dramatic axing came after Motsoeneng allegedly texted him, giving him instruction to fire his personal assistant Kenalemang Phukuntsi, or face consequences.

Phukuntsi contested for the position of provincial deputy secretary on the slate of Ntombela when the ANC Free State held its elective conference in January, however, she was defeated by Dibolelo Mahlatsi, a member of Dukwana and Motsoeneng’s faction.

Mahlatsi is currently serving as MEC of public works and infrastructure after she was appointed by Dukwana as part of his executive team.

In WhatsApp messages we have seen, Motsoeneng told Nxangisa that he should fire Phukuntsi.

“Cde Thembeni, it’s either you or Kenalemang who must go today. If you don’t release her, kindly submit your resignation as chief whip of the ANC tomorrow,” reads the message.

Nxangisa asked Motsoeneneng to advise on his directive by explaining the meaning of his message in Sesotho. Motsoeneng said in his response that he was told that Nxangisa had employed new staff “without our knowledge”.

Nxangisa refused to fire Phukuntsi, and this incensed Motsoeneng, who later sent Nxangisa a letter in which he told him that he was fired.

The letter, which we have seen, reads: “Dear Comrade Nxangisa. This correspondence serves to inform you that the organisation has resolved that you be redeployed from the position of the chief whip of the majority party with effect from the date of this letter.”

Insiders within the ANC in the province allege Motsoeneng was on a mission to purge politicians and officials linked to Magashule and Ntombela.

“Things are hectic here in Free State, and Motsoeneng and the ANC provincial leadership are on a crusade to get rid of Ace and Sisi’s people from top positions within the government. People are scared that they will be next in line after Thembeni.

When contacted for comment, Nxangisa declined and referred Sunday World to the ANC provincial spokesperson, Jabu Mbalula.

Mbalula said: “ We don’t deploy or redeploy our members on the basis of who they work with. I am not aware of any messages, and we do not discuss employment through WhatsApp communication.

“We do not have records of those WhatsApp messages.

“I don’t want you to send me those WhatsApp messages,” he said.

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