Khawe’s leadership bid undeterred in the face of abuse claims

Despite allegations of abuse hanging over his head, the ANC’s outgoing secretary in Gauteng Jacob Khawe is going ahead with plans to contest the party’s provincial conference.

FILE: An ANC flag flies outside a polling station in Langa, near Cape Town, on 1 November 2021. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Despite allegations of abuse hanging over his head, the ANC’s outgoing secretary in Gauteng Jacob Khawe is going ahead with plans to contest the party’s provincial conference. The conference is expected to sit in two weeks.

Khawe has been accused of abusing his estranged wife. He has told Eyewitness News that the couple’s families were mediating between them. He has also asked to appear before the party’s integrity commission to explain himself. Meanwhile, the ANC Women’s League in the province has offered to help his wife lay charges of domestic violence against him.

“For now, we are engaging as the families, we are engaging as the ANC, and I wish to leave the matter there,” Khawe said.

He dismissed rumours that some of his comrades could be behind the distribution of images of his battered wife circulating on social media.

“I think perhaps the reaction [to the story] increased the appetite of eliminating me … maybe people thought they could draw some benefit from what is happening,” said Khawe.


The outgoing provincial secretary wants to return to the powerful office that oversees the day-to-day running of the ANC and the administration of its branches.

He is up against two others who are vying for the job, elections manager Thulani Kunene, appearing on the same slate as Panyaza Lesufi and Thembinkosi “TK” Nciza featuring on Lebogang Maile’s slate.

And while the two camps have been crisscrossing the province and lobbying for supporters, as the different regions hold their conferences, it seems none of them have Khawe in their plans.

“Because they both opted to stand without any engagement, perhaps they didn't think I had an opinion on their leadership, so I better stay on that line,” remarked Khawe.

While the embattled leader believes the outgoing provincial executive committee and its officials did their best to lead the party, especially during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Khawe has been criticised for being absent on the job, with some in the party, telling Eyewitness News he is often missing in action during critical moments in the ANC, even during the lead-up to the 2021 local government elections, which saw the ANC haemorrhage votes across the metros.

“I'm not lazy, I've never been lazy, when I'm not sick, I'm on the ground, I do my work,” said Khawe.

He seems to believe that some of those who are critical of him, do so because they supported him previously hoping to benefit from his occupation of the office. He said his opponents could also be targeting him.

“Look if you have a weapon to use against what is your immediate political opponent you use anything to get at them,” said Khawe.


He says the ANC’s chances at the polls will also be determined by how the conference, which is set to take place during the first weekend of June, plays out.

“It all depends on the collective wisdom at the conference, whether we are willing to convert the threats that exist into opportunities,” he says.

Khawe said the good thing about candidates vying for leadership positions in Gauteng is that none have been affected by the contentious step-aside resolution due to pending criminal charges.

But he says it is also important for those elected to not focus on just attending party meetings but must work in their communities and assist in resolving issues affecting people every day.