ANC faith­ful try to quell the dis­sent

Fol­low­ing Zuma’s dis­as­trous Cabi­net reshuf­fle that cost the econ­omy bil­lions, the party has moved swiftly to si­lence crit­ics within its ranks

CityPress - - News - SE­TUMO STONE se­tumo.stone@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s hap­haz­ard han­dling of a Cabi­net reshuf­fle has led to an open feud among ANC lead­ers, with Free State Premier Ace Ma­gashule ac­cus­ing un­named na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­bers of be­ing hos­tile to the pres­i­dent. In the space of four days last week, Zuma fired Nh­lanhla Nene as fi­nance min­is­ter, re­placed him with lit­tle-known MP Des van Rooyen and then re­placed Van Rooyen with Pravin Gord­han – in the process wip­ing bil­lions of rands from the econ­omy as the rand fell to new lows.

Zuma had to back­track on his de­ci­sion af­ter even party mem­bers at­tacked the ap­point­ment of Van Rooyen.

South African banks also met with ANC heavy­weights, in­clud­ing Jeff Radebe and Zweli Mkhize, to raise their con­cerns.

The in­ter­nal party crit­i­cism and the per­cep­tion that Zuma is now a weak pres­i­dent has up­set Ma­gashule and other Zuma loy­al­ists, who have come out swing­ing.

Ma­gashule has de­fended him, say­ing Zuma must be af­forded the same re­spect for­mer ANC pres­i­dents Nel­son Man­dela and Thabo Mbeki were ac­corded.

Ma­gashule told City Press in an in­ter­view that it was clear there were peo­ple in the NEC of the ANC who were un­happy with Zuma’s lead­er­ship.

“Those peo­ple came out openly, if you read the pa­pers. Some in­di­vid­ual lead­ers who are even mem­bers of the NEC came out and said Zuma was wrong,” said Ma­gashule, who ear­lier in the week re­peated sim­i­lar com­ments in Zuma’s pres­ence at a Christ­mas event in Zamdela, Sa­sol­burg. Ma­gashule said: “Busi­ness must re­spect po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. “It has a role to play, but it must show re­spect to the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. And at the top of that lead­er­ship is Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.”

City Press un­der­stands that Ma­gashule’s sen­ti­ments were echoed at the ex­tended na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee (NWC) meet­ing on Tues­day, where it was ap­par­ent that there was a co­or­di­nated plan to de­fend Zuma and quash dis­sent­ing views.

City Press learnt that, at the meet­ing, sev­eral mem­bers of the NEC were not con­tent with the as­sur­ance that Zuma had rec­ti­fied his mis­take, in­sist­ing on an an­swer for why he had fired Nene in the first place.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, on the line from France, told City Press he would not speak to the me­dia about the events of last week and the de­ci­sions taken be­cause some of the is­sues were “com­plex”.

How­ever, Man­tashe warned that “it may re­flect grave ar­ro­gance” for lower struc­tures of the ANC to talk about the is­sues of up­per struc­tures with­out hav­ing di­rect knowl­edge of dis­cus­sions.

ANC chair­per­son Baleka Mbete said the NWC meet­ing was “the first oc­ca­sion in which we all put our heads to­gether and re­ceived a brief­ing and in­for­ma­tion about how the deputy pres­i­dent [Cyril Ramaphosa] and trea­surer-gen­eral [Mkhize] in­ter­acted with se­nior mem­bers of the cor­po­rate world”.

“I am happy be­cause, as a col­lec­tive, it was the first time we were man­ag­ing to get to­gether and get an un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues in­volved and how we en­gaged with them,” she said.

Mbete added that “busi­ness ac­tu­ally ex­pressed, for the first time, pa­tri­o­tism and an ap­proach that was say­ing ev­ery­body [should put] shoul­der to wheel [and] ... sup­port our gov­ern­ment, be­cause it is about South Africa and not about the in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ests of group­ings”.

“Ob­vi­ously, it is re­gret­table we got to that point, but I am happy with how far we have been able to man­age and sta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion,” she said.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair­per­son Sihle Zikalala said the ANC in the prov­ince had full con­fi­dence in Zuma.

A gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial close to Ramaphosa said the no­tion that Zuma’s pre­rog­a­tive had been un­der­mined by busi­ness and peo­ple within the ANC was mis­placed, be­cause both the con­sul­ta­tion and the pre­rog­a­tive were not nec­es­sar­ily mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

ANC Youth League (AN­CYL) pres­i­dent Collen Maine said: “As a coun­try, we would not want to have a sit­u­a­tion whereby the mar­ket dic­tates to us what to do.

“We can­not be turned into a ba­nana re­pub­lic,” he said, adding that the ap­point­ment of min­is­ters was Zuma’s pre­rog­a­tive and he had acted within his rights.

“If there are peo­ple in the ANC who want to un­der­mine Zuma, we will want them to come out,” said Maine.

He said the youth league would take those peo­ple on be­cause it was its duty to de­fend the ANC.

Sec­re­tary of the ANC in North West Dakota Le­goete said: “It is very sad for any mem­ber of the ANC to fall into a fool’s par­adise by think­ing that those who call for Zuma to fall are not ac­tu­ally call­ing for the ANC to fall.”

Eastern Cape ANC sec­re­tary Os­car Mabuyane said Zuma had han­dled the sit­u­a­tion re­spon­si­bly.

“We are gov­ern­ing the coun­try for the peo­ple of South Africa, not for ANC mem­bers. It is im­por­tant that we put the peo­ple of South Africa be­fore any other in­ter­ests,” said Mabuyane.

AN­CYL spokesper­son Mlondi Mkhize said there was no prob­lem with Cabi­net reshuf­fles.

“It is not about get­ting rid of min­is­ters, but de­ploy­ing peo­ple in ar­eas of com­pe­tence,” said Mkhize, adding that the league would lobby for an­other reshuf­fle soon af­ter next year’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

“Im­me­di­ately af­ter the elec­tions, we must get ready to steer the ship in the right di­rec­tion,” he said.

“We feel there are de­part­ments we need to look into to strengthen ser­vice de­liv­ery.”

PHOTO: AYI LE­SHA­BANE

VOTER FEVER Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa on the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paign trail for 2016 in Mmakau, North West, this week LOOSE CAN­NON Is­raeli wa­ter can­nons bear­ing the SAPS logo on Beit Alfa’s web­site

JA­COB ZUMA

ACE MA­G­A­SHULE

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