Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied a claim that President Cyril Ramaphosa asked him to leave a meeting for being “unprepared and failing to read Cabinet memos.”
The Sunday Independent published a report on Sunday (22 May) that cited unnamed sources who made the claim. They alleged that the incident took place during a meeting of the government’s Economic Sectors, Investment, Employment and Infrastructure Development cluster last week.
However, Mbalula told journalists during a SANRAL briefing on Monday (23 May) that the allegation is not true.
“The media is fed under current [sic] by faceless people. We are a public entity, and we are public representatives, and we have got to account and explain ourselves,” he said.
“It’s like you are media and somebody tells you that Mbalula was expelled out of Cabinet, and you believe that, you write it, then you don’t take yourself seriously. You’re a reputable journalist. You should know as an editor that such nonsense cannot happen in Cabinet. Not even in a spaza shop [can] a person be treated like what it is said. Cabinet doesn’t operate that way.”
The Minister said the law prevents him from talking about Cabinet meetings in public, adding that the media should not just publish what sources say without verifying the facts.
Earlier on Monday, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele also described the claim as “malicious reporting,” “unfounded” and aimed at “deliberately misleading members of the public.”
“Cabinet discussions are confidential. This has been a long-standing convention and thus these allegations are unfounded,” Gungubele said in a statement.
“Cabinet decisions are in a transparent manner shared with the public by the Minister in the Presidency. The allegations made by the Sunday Independent are therefore unjustified and malicious.”
Mbalula is a staunch ally of Ramaphosa who regularly clashes with the President’s critics on social media, especially former MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus.
He is likely to support Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term as ANC President when the party convenes its 55th national conference in December this year.
Other presumed candidates for the top position include former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.