Luthuli House SGO battle a plan to isolate Mokonyane

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula and his first deputy Nomvula Mokonyane are butting heads over the control of Luthuli House’s most powerful office.

Sunday World learnt that the head-on collision of the two political heavyweights emanates from a plot orches-trated by Mbalula to liquidate Mokonyane’s power in the party’s headquarters.

Mokonyane was elected to the position on the slate of former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, who challenged and failed to dislodge party president Cyril Ramaphosa when the organisation held its elective conference in Joburg in December last year.


Mbalula, who was on Ramaphosa’s slate pipped his rivals to the powerful post after launching his campaign at the eleventh hour.

According to well-placed insiders within Luthuli House, the squabble between Mbalula and Mokonyane is beyond just mere rivalry and hubris but an attempt to isolate the latter, who is the only official who made it without being part of Ramaphosa’s CR22 faction.

Mokonyane and Mbalula’s cold war came to the fore when the party held its first meeting with controversial US ambassador Reuben Brigety last week, following his bombshell claims that the government was supplying arms to Russia for its military offensive against Ukraine.

According to sources, the meeting was timed to take place in the absence of Mokonyane, who had been deployed to campaign for by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal.

They allege that Mokonyane felt undermined that such a meeting would take place without her as head of the party national executive committee’s (NEC)’s subcommittee on international relations.

Apparently in retaliation, Mokonyane organised her own meeting with Brigety on Tuesday and planned a “peace march” to the US consulate for Wednesday.


But the march was “canned” after a decision by national officials in what insiders’ claim was an attempt to “frustrate and isolate” Mokonyane.

But an NEC member working at Luthuli House downplayed the rift, saying there was no friction between the two.

“There is no such a thing, these comrades are working well, and I say this because I work there every day.

“People are conflating issues, the SG (Mbalula) mandated the DGS (Mokonyane) to take the talks with the US ambassador further… to clear a few things,” said the deep-throat.

“They then agreed on a process of taking the talks forward and the SG delegated the DSG to lead that process because after all the DSG is the head of international relations.”

But this was contradicted by another source who asked why would such a thing happen in such a short a space of time, insisting it was Mokonyane’s fightback plan.

An NEC member who is full-time at Pixley ka Seme Street confirmed Mokonyane planned to organise the protest but also downplayed the schism between her and Mbalula.

“There was a planned march indeed and the DSG presented to the officials, but because of the many activities that were happening it was agreed that it must be called off because there are ongoing talks.

And the DSG accepted that because she now leads the engagements as mandated by the SG. The march was then canned.”

ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said Mbalula had decided before engaging Brigety that it was Mokonyane who would take the process forward.

She directed this newspaper to a statement released after Mbalula and Brigety’s meeting in which it is said that “the meeting agreed to a follow-up bilateral meeting with ANC NEC’s subcommittee on international relations”.

Bhengu-Motsiri said any talk of bad blood between Mbalula and Mokonyane was sponsored by enemies of progress who want to “drive a wedge” between ANC national officials.

Mokonyane said she would not comment on any plot to frustrate her and isolate her.

“As for the bigger agenda to isolate and frustrate me, I think I am not in the space of feeding into dubious characters obsessed with malice,” said Mokonyane.

As far as she knew, she added, the march to the US Consulate was “canned and not cancelled” because of events that were happening, including the memorial service of the late spook Billy Masetlha.She said she was working well with Mbalula.

An ANC informant said Mokon-yane had had it coming from the time she got elected to her position because she is an outsider who emerged victorious from an opposing slate.

“Nomvula has been fighting these people since the conference when they tried everything to stop her.

“They will circle her by all means because she is not one of them,” said the source.

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