On 17 June 1972 five men were arrested for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington DC.
It later emerged that the burglars were part of the campaign team to re-elect Republican president Richard Nixon to office. Nixon was implicated in the scandal and the Democratic Party called for his impeachment as US president. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Nixon resigned in 1974 and Watergate became a worldwide scandal.
It is early days yet in South Africa but surely the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters are salivating at the prospects of something exciting to unfold. A certain Sihle Bolani took the ANC to court to claim R2.2 million payment for an undercover smear operationshe led to unethically, and probably unlawfully, discredit the DA and EFF in last year’s local government elections. Working with the grandson of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu, Shaka Sisulu, in this clandestine operation, Bolani so shook the ANC that he organisation offered a R1 million settlement to silence Bolani. A scandal of monumental proportions is about to unfold in South Africa. How will this affect the ruling party?
Ignatius Jacobs, the ANC general manager, seems to be the point man in the whole saga. He has offered Bolani a million rand payable by December 2017 for services rendered. With the covert operation now in the open, Luthuli House is distancing itself from both Jacobs and Sisulu. It is called damage control. The DA and EFF are going for the kill. The media, on the other hand, is just getting started.
Now, what is the ANC expected to pay for? If indeed Bolani and Sisulu ran that undercover smear campaign, they failed dismally to deliver on their promise and subsequent mandate. The 2016 local government election results will go down in history as the worst since the ANC came to power in 1994. Not only did the ruling party lose the major metros, the party performed poorly and lost support in all the provinces except in KwaZulu Natal. From Mbeki’s almost 70% in 2004, today the ANC only commands 54% of the will of the voting people of South Africa. So, Bolani has not delivered but still expects to be paid his full amount. In desperation, Jacobs has offered R1m to settle the matter.
The idea of a War Room is not new in the ANC. The party has always had that outfit mainly to up its communications and propaganda effort during election campaigns. What is new is the smear campaign allegedly run by Bolani that was intended to illegally besmirch the image of the opposition. The details are sketchy at the moment and hopefully the full picture will emerge in the near future.
It is only when the full picture of the smear campaign has emerged that the ANC will have to explain itself. The party’s Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, has already distanced the organisation from the shenanigans of Sisulu and Bolani, emphasizing that Sisulu is not even an employee of the ANC.
Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994, no party has been accused of the kind of unethical behaviour coming out of the Bolani Affair. The DA has been quick to refer the matter to the Independent Electoral Commission(IEC) to check if the Electoral Act has been violated or not. The EFF will most definitely milk this scandal for whatever it is worth in the next few weeks.
We do not know how things are going to unfold regarding this matter. With Watergate, five burglars were arrested in June 1972 and none knew at the time that the seemingly mundane event would unleash a whirlwind leading to an attempted impeachment leading to the resignation of the 37th president of the United States. Will the Bolani Affair lead to anything for the ANC in South Africa? Only time will tell.
Source: Sello Lediga