ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe’s former personal assistant has accused him of sexual harassment. Mabe has denied the woman’s claims.
The former PA told News24 she was appointed by Mabe himself but describes her period in his office as “the most difficult four months”.
The woman handed over a 14-page letter, which News24 has seen, detailing the alleged sexual harassment and the first assignment she worked on with Mabe. She claims Mabe forced himself into her bed on two occasions earlier this year.
She says she rejected his advances and that this resulted in her being ill-treated by the ANC’s national spokesperson as his assistant.
“I could see there was a continuation in how Pule treated me and so on; it led to an unwarranted salary cut. That’s when I realised if you don’t speak out you are going to go down for nothing,” she told News24.
The woman says she’s aware of claims by Mabe that her grievance is an attempt to hit back at him because he raised concerns about her qualifications. But she says he was aware of the fact that she had not completed her degree when he hired her.
“I was hired by Pule and human resources; HR knew. Upon arrival on my first day I mentioned to him I started at [university]. I never hid that I did not have qualifications and said I am working on it.”
‘Toxic’ working environment
The woman dismissed the idea that she was being “used” as a pawn in ANC battles that are playing out at Luthuli House, saying she was an independent woman who had decided “enough was enough”.
The former assistant also said Mabe had created a difficult working environment, not only for herself, but the entire department of information and publicity at Luthuli House.
News24 also spoke to other workers in the department who described working with Mabe as “hellish” and “toxic”, accusing him of being difficult to work with.
However, a number of staffers who are close to Mabe claim he is often undermined by older members who are linked to the unit’s previous leaders.
Others had previously raised concerns over the treatment of his assistant, claiming he often reduced her to tears.
“The working environment is completely toxic; the way he treats us is terrible. We are often shouted at and being told we were found at DIP (department of information and publicity), so we obviously serve (Gwede) Mantashe and Zizi (Kodwa),” said one staffer.
When News24 approached Mabe for comment he initially claimed he knew nothing of the allegations or the woman’s appointment with the party’s grievance committee. Mabe later confirmed the complaint to News24. He said he would be willing to speak on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Monday, the ANC confirmed that a complaint has been lodged at its Headquarters last week.
“We have since established a Grievance Panel, as per our personnel manual, to ensure a fair process. The panel will hear the case later this week,” said the ANC’s head of presidency, Zizi Kodwa.
The party said it would not comment further until the finalisation of these internal processes.