Zuma supporters slam Mantashe
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s insistence on protecting his right to be a candidate in the party’s hotly contested succession race has earned him the wrath of President Jacob Zuma’s supporters.
Yesterday, Mantashe dismissed backers of presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for questioning his inclusion as national chairperson on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s slate for the elective conference next month.
The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association went to the extent of threatening that they would boo Ramaphosa when he addresses them as the deputy president.
ANC leagues yesterday accused Mantashe of factionalism for his links to Ramaphosa’s campaign, arguing he undermined the secretary-general’s office.
Addressing the media on the outcomes of the ruling party’s special national executive committee meeting, Mantashe said he had a right to have a choice and a preference as campaigning was now open.
ANC Youth League national spokesman Mlondi Mkhize said Mantashe was wrong to associate himself with Ramaphosa’s campaign.
“Our view is that the SG’s office must be conducted in a manner that gives it dignity, and while this does not stop him from having a preference, it places a lot of responsibility on him in terms of conduct,” he said.
Mantashe asked what Dlamini Zuma and her backers would do if he also contested for presidency, as was the case with a number of the party’s officials.
“The possibility with the stability that we are having is that you could have a GM17 now contesting to be president. Would they say ‘no, the SG cannot be contesting the position of the president because he is a secretary general?’”
Mantashe defended his availability to serve and called on his detractors to campaign and win the upcoming election instead of being petty.
“Three of the six officials are candidates for president and nobody makes any noise about that,” Mantashe said.
With only four weeks left before the ANC’s crucial national elective congress, Dlamini Zuma and Ramaphosa have emerged as the main contenders in the race as the ruling party’s branches continue to finalise their nominations.
Mantashe complained that Zuma and Dlamini Zuma’s backers were allowed to endorse her presidential campaign.
“In Kimberly, in a government event, there was singing of ‘We are ready, we are ready for Nkosazana’ and there was no noise about that,” Mantashe said.
MK Vets chief Kebby Maphatsoe defended Zuma, saying he was only “singing along” at the event.
“You can’t sit down when people are singing and you know he (Zuma) likes to sing,” Maphatsoe said.
He accused both Mantashe of Ramaphosa of creating a “wrong precedent” by openly declaring their preferences, adding that he and his faction would not respect Ramaphosa even if he won.
“Because of what they have done, it will be difficult to bring unity in the ANC.”