South Africa: 'Magashule Facilitated Payment of ATM' - Ngqulwana Stands Firm On His Statements in Defamation Suit

21 September 2019

Former general secretary of the messianic churches, Buyisile Ngqulwana remains steadfast that his statements about the African Transformation Movement (ATM) being the brainchild of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule are factually true and not defamatory.

Magashule is taking Ngqulwana to court over his claims that Magashule had a hand in the establishment of the ATM, a small party that emerged in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.

Some inside and outside the ANC, however, claim the party was set up to split the vote and reduce the ANC's votes.

Ngqulwana, the former SG of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC), said in an affidavit, which News24 has seen, that he denies his statements about Magashule are defamatory.

"The facts will show that the applicant was instrumental in developments which would ultimately lead to the formation of ATC (African Transformation Congress) as a political party that was intended to serve as the political mouthpiece of the SACMCC," he said.

He added a dispute arose after the establishment of ATM, which was not authorised by SACMCC.

In the affidavit Ngqulwana details the sequence of events, leading up how ATM was eventually registered as a political party.

He said plans to establish a political party emerged after President Cyril Ramaphosa had been elected president of the ANC, instead of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ngqulwana said various meetings were held including at former ANC president Jacob Zuma's home.

He said on one occassion he met Magashule at one of those meetings which took place in East London, where supporters of Dlamini-Zuma were present.

'A political mouthpiece'

Magashule, Ngqulwana said, "financially supported the formation of a political party that would serve as a political mouthpiece for the SACMCC when he was Premier of the Free State".

"I met with [Magashule] in 2017 for the time in his capacity as Premier of the Free State, to solicit funds for the research to be done for the establishment and development of a political party," Ngqulwana said.

He added that after meeting Magashule at his offices in Bloemfontein, he was directed to the then premier's director-general to finalise payment.

He continued: "Persuant to our discussion, an amount of R141 000 was thereafter paid into our account for the benefit of our foundation, the African Transformation Foundation (ATF)... I understood that the applicant facilitated this payment to AFT."

"This payment assisted with the costs for the formation and registration of a political party," he said, mentioning the names of those who helped with the formation of ATC.

Initially, the formation of a party was mainly to assist and support the ANC, however, Ngqulwana said "it was only during the events that transpired after the rejection of the ATC as a political party and what followed thereafter that it became apparent to me and other members of the ATC that there was a conspiracy to hijack ATC and its membership".

He added that, along the way, his view began to differ to that of Magashule's.

"I sensed that I no longer carried his favour because of my view that the ATC should form an alliance with the ANC rather than with the other small parties."

During a meeting with Magashule in May 2018 at Luthuli House, Ngqulwana said he told Magashule, "ideologically we differ. ATC is the mouthpiece of the SACMCC and we have to be loyal members of the ANC".

'If I did not co-operate I would be recalled'

Magashule, who Ngqulwana said wanted the ATC to be united with other small parties instead, allegedly told Ngqulwana that he would make instructions to change the C of ATC to M, and if Ngqulwana did not cooperate, he would "be recalled".

About two months later, Ngqualwana was recalled.

"I was recalled as the General Secretary of the SACMCC. The position adopted by [Magashule] in our meeting at Luthuli House - that if I did not co-operate I would be recalled - had now materialised."

News24 previously reported that Magashule hit back at Ngqulwana with a defamation suit seeking up to R500 000 in damages.

Magashule, at the time, said: "The purpose I am bringing this application is to vindicate my reputation. To this end, I seek various orders aimed at vindicating my character and putting an end to the ongoing and unlawful of the allegations in the statement and compensating me for the harm I have suffered," News24 reported.

Ngqulwana is also facing a R22m defamation lawsuit from ATM, saying the statements he has made about the formation of the party are "blatant lies", according to News24.

Ngqulwana previously told News24 he was unable to pay the money and that he does not have funds to defend himself in court.

"How did they arrive at R22m? I won't be able to pay. I know what I stand for [and] I am speaking the truth. They are trying to disturb the investigations. They are trying to intimidate me [and] I won't apologise to anyone because I did nothing wrong," he said.

Source: News24

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