Carl Niehaus, the controversial spokesperson of the disbanded MKMVA, had told the ANC that its threat to terminate his employment in the party was illegal.
Niehaus made the comment in a response to ANC General Manager Febe Potgieter’s letter sent to him earlier on Thursday (9 September).
Carl Niehaus threatens criminal charges against ANC
In her letter, Potgieter gave Niehaus until 16h00 on Thursday to explain why he should not be fired. This followed a press release by Niehaus inviting the media to witness him laying criminal charges against the ANC’s top 6 leaders.
According to him, the party’s failure to pay staff salaries, including forwarding Provident Fund and retirement fund contributions to relevant institutions, amounted to criminal conduct. He however issued another statement postponing the laying of charges.
“At the time of writing this letter, you have not distanced yourself from the press release, which has your name and number. As your employer, the ANC would like you to provide it with the reasons why it should not summarily dismiss you,” Potgieter wrote in her letter.
“You have until 4pm this afternoon to furnish the ANC (through the office of the general manager) with the requested reasons and a failure to do so will result in the immediate termination of your employment contract without further notice.”
Threat to fire me is ‘illegal’
In response, Niehaus wrote, “The threat to terminate my employment with the ANC without further notice, and without a disciplinary hearing, is illegal.
“The short notice of a mere two and a half hours to provide reasons why I should not be dismissed summarily is draconian and most unreasonable. It is contrary to all the laws of natural justice. It is my contention that this is constructive dismissal.”
He did not deny issuing the press release, but denied that he had intended to lay criminal charges on behalf of the ANC Staff Association as was alleged by ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe.
“I am acting in my personal capacity as an employee, and also together with other employees, whom I cannot name as they will obviously be similarly victimised and subjected to intimidation,” he maintained.
In a public statement, Mabe accused Niehaus of engaging in “divisive, opportunistic and anti-ANC behaviour” aimed at undermining and disrespecting the ANC’s leadership collective led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The ANC has interacted with staff representatives and has unequivocally confirmed that Carl Niehaus does not represent them nor does he have the mandate to act on their behalf,” Mabe said.
“His desperate lust for publicity and his latest withdrawal of the said fraudulent statement does not augur well with Carl’s self-claimed credentials as a decorated freedom fighter.”
Niehaus has been working in suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s office, but it is unclear what role he plays. This is the second time he has faced threats to his employment. In January, Potgieter similarly handed him a suspension notice following his “personal attack” on Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte.
He is also facing disciplinary action over his comments outside former President Jacob Zuma’s residence in Nkandla in July. In a televised press conference, he warned of civil unrest if Zuma was arrested.