ANC groupings have been putting pressure on the accuser of embattled Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to either withdraw the case or go public about the incident.
Days after she opened a sexual assault criminal complaint against the former trade unionist, who holds a sensitive position as head of Treasury, Sunday World can reveal that the complainant, who works at the Kruger National Park, lives in fear as Godongwana’s supporters and detractors (who have conflicting interests) put tremendous pressure on her.
Sunday World can reveal that the complainant, who works at the Kruger National Park, lives in fear as Godongwana’s supporters and detractors (who have conflicting interests) put pressure on her to either withdraw the case or go public about the incident.
On Thursday night, Godongwana, whose future hangs by a thread amid a strong push for him to resign, issued a second statement on the matter as he maintained his innocence, saying he does not know the identity of the woman who has accused him of sexual assault.
But Sunday World understands that the situation is so dire that Godongwana’s sympathisers reached out to a female cabinet minister close to President Cyril Ramaphosa to convince the complainant to drop the case.
The scandal comes as officials of the National Treasury are currently in the process of compiling the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), popularly referred to as the “mini budget in October”. The MTBPS allows government departments to apply for adjustments to their budgets, roll-overs and request additional funds for unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure.
An ANC national executive committee member familiar with the behind-the-scenes developments surrounding the case, said Godongwana’s case had plunged the party and National Treasury into a tailspin.
“There are various groupings in this thing – those that want her to come out publicly and those that say she must just remain silent and be the victim,” the leader said.
Godongwana’s allies want the accuser to drop the case to save his political career while his nemesis want the alleged victim to speak about the case in public as part of a move to dislodge the minister from his powerful post and weaken his standing in the ANC in the run-up to the party’s hotly contested elective conference in December.
The accusations against Godongwana will stand or fall whether he can prove that his was in the room at the time the alleged incident took place
Sunday World understands that the complainant was convinced not to go public with the matter as Godongwana denied the incident happened.
It has also emerged that Godongwana was increasingly being isolated, with some around Ramaphosa saying he should fall on his sword as gender-based violence was a scourge in the country.
“Everybody is scared that once you come to his rescue it will taint you. I don’t see him coming out of this. It is now causing us problems in the Treasury, which is a sensitive position,” the leader said.
It has also emerged that Godongwana was a regular at the Kruger Shalati at Skukuza where the incident allegedly occurred during a massage session in a private room.
Knives are already out for Godongwana, who is also a close ally of Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele – both Ramaphosa’s close allies.
The ANC Women’s League has called on law enforcement to deal swiftly with Godongwana’s case. On Monday, the league’s national task team coordinator Maropene Ramokgopa said the party also had to deal with the matter internally, adding that “our country has increasingly become an unsafe place for women. It is unacceptable that every day there are reports of gender-based violence and femicide committed against women.”
Godongwana faces pressure to resign from within and outside the ANC. He is expected to come under heavy attack when the party holds a special meeting of its national working committee and NEC on Tuesday.
An ANC NWC member said Godongwana had no choice but to resign.
“That matter is topical; it is going to arise [at the NEC and NWC meetings]. If you defend him, it is like you are defending GBV. There is a clear case against him, he must step aside,” the member, who is aligned to the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) forces said.
In terms of the party’s rule 25.7, those criminally charged by the NPA should step aside from their positions.
A source close to Ramaphosa said the president’s hands were tied on the matter. “Maybe he should be charged so that we debunk the perception that those around the president are always protected,” said the insider.
Another ANC NEC member, who is also close to Ramaphosa said that as the NPA considers state capture cases, it was opportune for the prosecutorial body to use Godongwana as proof that they do their work without fear or favour.
“You have to show that the NPA is not a factional instrument targeting RET,” he said.
On Wednesday, Godongwana voluntarily appeared before the ANC integrity commission in relation to the allegations levelled against him. He has maintained his innocence and vowed never to step down.
“While I serve as minister of finance at the privilege of President Cyril Ramaphosa, I wish to state that I personally intend on continuing with executing my duties by focusing on the critical tasks of revitalising our economy and protecting the fiscus,” he said.
“It is my contention that issues of this nature are not appropriate for political expediency and therefore I would like to make a sincere plea that our law enforcement agencies be given space and time to get to the bottom of the matter as speedily as possible.”
Should Godongwana fall on his sword, he will go down as the second-shortest serving finance minister. In 2015, Gupta ally Des van Rooyen made history when he served only a few days in what has become known as “weekend special”.