Mbulelo Goniwe had been active in the liberation struggle and with the inception of new democracy, held several positions, the most recent of which was the post of African National Congress (ANC) chief whip. In 2006, it was revealed that Goniwe had made sexual advances toward a twenty-one year old administrative assistant in the ANC's parliamentary office. The incident occurred on the evening of a birthday party that was held in his home. Goniwe and the assistant, Nomawele Njongo, apparently disappeared into a bedroom for 45 minutes. Njongo claimed that Goniwe made overtures of a sexual nature and that he had tried to get her to sleep with him.
The allegations were made public towards the end 2006. Goniwe was defiant, claiming that the allegations were baseless and malicious. The ANC's National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) responded to the allegations by bringing three charged against Goniwe: abusing his office to obtain sexual favors, bringing the ANC into disrepute and provoking divisions in the unity of the party. Goniwe was found guilty on the first two charges and was fired as the chief whip of the ANC on 14 December 2006. He also lost his parliamentary seat and his membership of the ANC was suspended for three years.
Goniwe's sacking was considered by many as a landmark for women's rights in South Africa. Goniwe on the other hand, felt that he was not given the opportunity to tell his side of the story.