The daughter of President Jacob Zuma and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Thuthukile Zuma, has been accused of "stealing" an ANC Youth League branch.
She allegedly hired bouncers to stop some ANC Youth League members from participating in a meeting to elect new leaders for the league’s Bheki Mkhize branch in Northcliff, Johannesburg.
"She stole the branch. Thuthu has been trying to get her hands on that branch and she finally did it," claimed one insider who did not want to be named.
It was claimed that she was voted secretary of the branch at a five-star hotel in Randpark Ridge after chaos broke out at the Windsor Recreation Centre, where the voting was due to take place last week Thursday night.
"We know she is being positioned in order to facilitate a pronouncement for her mom as the next ANC president from both the region and the province," said one ANCYL member who was at the centre.
Zuma was previously the branch’s chair. The position of secretary however is believed to hold more power.
She is the youngest of Jacob Zuma’s daughters with Dlamini-Zuma. When approached for comment, she referred News24 to league regional convenor Mangaliso Khonza.
Khonza denied that Zuma was at fault.
However, several sources told News24 that she was to blame for the fracas during the branch's election. One source, who did not want to be named, said this was Zuma’s second attempt to become branch secretary.
'Rowdy non-members'
They claimed she brought bogus members to support an earlier meeting on May 12. That meeting collapsed as members sang and refused to allow the league’s deployee and regional convenor, Tefo Raphado, to proceed with the elections.
Raphado, who was at the hotel where Thuthukile was elected, said he could not discuss what transpired.
"I am not at liberty to discuss internal organisational matters," he said before hanging up.
Another ANCYL member who was at the meeting said the ANC’s branch chairperson Shane Maja and secretary Nkanyiso Khumalo were asked to intervene.
Zuma’s former deputy, Tshepiso Matshwe, said she and other members asked for help from their mother body.
Matshwe refused to comment on claims of gatekeeping at the branch general meeting. Khumalo said he had not seen a formal complaint about the gathering, but that some members had expressed their unhappiness in party WhatsApp groups.
"We can’t get involved. Unless there is a serious complaint, we don’t take them seriously," Khumalo said.
Khonza blamed the chaos on a "rent-a-crowd" brought in to disturb the night’s proceedings.
"They were rowdy and when the deployees tried to engage them, there was lots of interference from those we can say were non-members," he told News24.
Corruption, gatekeeping
Khonza also said one of the task team members at the event was assaulted.
He, like the insiders, linked the tensions in the branch to the succession battle ahead of the ANC national elective conference in December, when Jacob Zuma is expected to step down as president.
Zuma had already indicated that his former spouse would be his ideal replacement.
"This is not just happening to Thuthukile’s branch. It’s a 2017 issue that is spiralling and involving itself in the youth league," Khonza said.
He said the Bheki Mkhize branch could have become a target for those wanting to get media attention.
"It has the necessary attraction, like a honeycomb."
Khonza said a few branches in the region had been flooded with "non-members". This supported claims by several ANC leaders that democratic processes in the party were fraught with corruption, buying of delegates, and gatekeeping.
He defended the decision to elect the young Zuma at the five-star establishment.
"They moved the venue following the disturbance. There [they] had a quorum and it was properly constituted," he said.
'Here to create issues'
Those unhappy about Thursday’s proceedings said they had lodged a complaint. At least one ANC member confirmed that a complaint had been laid.
Khonza disputed this.
"The province doesn’t have a dispute and national doesn’t have a dispute. The only dispute is people talking to the media because they know themselves that they are not members of the ANC Youth League, but are here to create issues," he said.
News24 has seen the letter submitted to the ANC, which 17 branch members signed. In it, they outline their dissatisfaction with the events of Thursday night.
They allege a quorum was not reached, that 68 members with copies of their forms and ID books were denied entry to the venue and that some members who voted had forms with forged signatures.
They claim only 18 members in good standing signed the register, out of a possible 122.
Thuthukile Zuma has previously made headlines for being promoted from public liaison officer to chief of staff at the telecommunications ministry within two months, a post where she earned close to R1m a year.
In February, she criticised ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni and called on the ANC to stop juniorising senior posts.
This followed the ANC reproaching the ANCYL in Gauteng for laying charges of corruption and culpable homicide against former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and calling for Premier David Makhura to resign.
The ANCYL did so in the wake of the Gauteng health department’s decision to move psychiatric patients from the Life Esidimeni facility to unregistered NGOs last year. Over 100 patients died due to a lack of adequate care.