Nene urged to dis­own Zuma crit­ics

The EFF’s Julius Malema tells S’them­bile Cele and Fe­rial Haf­fa­jee that he is de­mand­ing that the pres­i­dent do far more than #PayBack­TheMoney

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Long af­ter his fir­ing from Cab­i­net as fi­nance min­is­ter, the Nh­lanhla Nene saga re­fuses to go away. This week op­po­si­tion par­ties will use his ax­ing to at­tack Zuma.

But now al­lies of the pres­i­dent want Nene to ex­plic­itly dis­tance him­self from those us­ing his name to mount a cam­paign against Zuma.

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) are plan­ning to turn Tues­day’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court hear­ing about Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Nkandla ren­o­va­tions into a mass anti-cor­rup­tion rally. Two days later, they are likely to again dis­rupt the pres­i­dent’s an­nual state of the na­tion ad­dress (Sona). City Press spoke to party leader Julius Malema at EFF head­quar­ters in Jo­han­nes­burg. Who will join you at court on Tues­day?

We’ll be bring­ing EFF branches and sup­port­ers. We had a lot of peo­ple con­firm­ing; no fewer than 25 000 peo­ple. But we don’t have the ca­pac­ity to bring them [all], be­cause we don’t have the money. We are chal­lenged. So I think we will man­age to bring 5 000. Is the Con­sti­tu­tional Court case not moot now that Pres­i­dent Zuma has of­fered to pay back the money he owes?

If Pres­i­dent Zuma wants to, he can take the set­tle­ment of­fer be­fore the judges, and then we will be asked to re­spond and will sim­ply say we have given him our re­sponse that we must in­clude the fol­low­ing... What is ‘the fol­low­ing’?

We must all agree that the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­me­dial ac­tions are legally bind­ing on all of us; that the pres­i­dent breached the Con­sti­tu­tion by fail­ing to im­ple­ment the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­me­dial ac­tions; and that we must en­sure that, in 60 days, who­ever is ap­pointed [to make the cal­cu­la­tion of what Zuma owes for the ren­o­va­tions to his es­tate at Nkandla], should come up with the amounts of the iden­ti­fied se­cu­rity fea­tures, but they shouldn’t be lim­ited to those. There must be other [fea­tures whose costs should be con­sid­ered], which might be non-se­cu­rity fea­tures, like air-con, tiles, car­pets... So you will ask the courts to put in place a 60-day dead­line for the pres­i­dent to #PayBack­TheMoney?

Yes. Not 90 days; he wants 90 days. We want 60 days. So the count­down would start when?

Im­me­di­ately from [the date of next week’s court hear­ing]. Who will ar­gue your case?

[Ad­vo­cate] Wim Tren­gove [one of South Africa’s most highly re­garded silks]. It seems as if the wind has been taken out of your sails for Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day be­cause the pres­i­dent is go­ing to pay back the money. Why would you still dis­rupt Sona?

No, no, no; the state of the na­tion this year was not go­ing to be about #PayBack­TheMoney. I made a point even last year that if we go to the state of the na­tion be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tional Court re­solves this mat­ter, we won’t even speak about it, be­cause we must re­spect the courts.

Our prob­lem with Zuma now is the min­is­ter of fi­nance. He needs to ex­plain why he did what he did [ax­ing Nh­lanhla Nene as the min­is­ter] and [he must] apol­o­gise to the na­tion, be­cause Zuma con­tin­ues to jus­tify that non­sense he did. And then ev­ery time he jus­ti­fies it, we lose one or two in­vestors out of this coun­try be­cause they are like: ‘This guy doesn’t see any­thing wrong with what he has done.’ What if he re­peats a sim­i­lar mis­take? So what is the ques­tion likely to be on Thurs­day?

He needs to ex­plain why he re­moved the min­is­ter of fi­nance and must then apol­o­gise for that wrong ac­tion. What if the pres­i­dent says, as he has done, that it was his pres­i­den­tial pre­rog­a­tive?

There is no pre­rog­a­tive to [be al­lowed to] mess up. And there is noth­ing in the Con­sti­tu­tion of South Africa which says you may not be ac­count­able. It is your pre­rog­a­tive, but you have to ac­count. Have you spo­ken to Nene at all?

I don’t know that chap. I have never met him in the ANC struc­tures, I have never met him in the ANC mass meet­ings. Nowhere. So why are you speak­ing for him?

I’m not speak­ing for him. Nene is not our friend. Our friend is the re­pub­lic of South Africa. You [the pres­i­dent] re­move a min­is­ter. Un­pro­voked. With­out any­thing that sug­gests there must be an in­ter­ven­tion in Trea­sury, and then you make that stupid move that puts all of us into a cri­sis. I don’t care whether it is Nene. I don’t care whether it is [Fi­nance Min­is­ter] Pravin [Gord­han] – you just don’t make a move like that. How big is the eco­nomic cri­sis?

It is huge. It is huge be­cause look at what hap­pens now. The rand has be­come weaker be­cause the ex­change rate is just not af­ford­able. It doesn’t make busi­ness sense to con­tinue buy­ing things and then im­port­ing them into South Africa, and when you sell to South Africa with this new price. No one buys, be­cause they can’t af­ford to. So the whole thing of an ex­change rate has ac­tu­ally af­fected the whole mar­ket. Have you ever vis­ited the Gupta fam­ily in Sax­on­world and have they ever con­trib­uted to the EFF?

I have never met the Gup­tas. I have never asked for any­thing from the Gup­tas. They have never con­trib­uted any­thing to the EFF. When I was in the ANC Youth League, Zuma’s son [Duduzane Zuma] called to ask for a meet­ing be­cause I had made some re­marks about the Gup­tas. I said: ‘You must call the [then] sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the youth league, Vuy­iswa Tulelo, and tell her why they want to meet us.’ Then Vuy­iswa said to them: ‘You must write down why you want to meet us,’ and then we col­lec­tively met and agreed that we were not go­ing to meet the Gup­tas.

The Gup­tas [only] came close to me through [Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile] Mbalula, when they called Mbalula to tell him when he was the deputy min­is­ter of po­lice that he was go­ing to be ap­pointed min­is­ter of sports. They called him to tell him that?

Ja, they called him about that and Mbalula didn’t make it a se­cret. We went to the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) of the ANC to fight about it. We said: ‘Why would we be called by strangers and be told what we are go­ing to be ap­pointed to when we have an elected lead­er­ship [to do that]?’

I re­mem­ber Mbalula fought bit­terly and even ended up cry­ing in the NEC be­cause he was emo­tional that now the pres­i­dent says we want to re­move him; [that] we don’t want him and all that be­cause we are ques­tion­ing why the Gup­tas are in­ter­fer­ing in the affairs of ap­point­ments by the ANC. What kind of week will this week be?

We are go­ing to win in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and there is go­ing to be a nice sur­prise party for the Gup­tas on [Tues­day]. And in Par­lia­ment, we are go­ing to come and chal­lenge the pres­i­dent and the white shirts [the term used to de­scribe the cops who last year dis­guised them­selves in white shirts] are go­ing to come in, and then we are go­ing to start with the gym­nas­tics. Then we are go­ing to ul­ti­mately be de­feated and taken out, but his­tory will record that we are the only ones con­sis­tently who chal­lenge this rot that is hap­pen­ing. Like He­len Suz­man [the late famed par­lia­men­tar­ian of the Pro­gres­sive Fed­eral Party who was a lone thorn in the side of the apartheid state]. So you see your­self as a new Suz­man?

No, no. [What I meant is that] alone, she could chal­lenge the au­thor­i­ties. She may not have done it the way we are do­ing it. But she used to stand up and ‘say this is un­ac­cept­able’. So we need to be re­mem­bered like that. That when the rot was hap­pen­ing we stood up and said ‘not in our name’. What about the view that you are solely on an anti-Zuma cam­paign and have noth­ing else to cam­paign with?

But if you look at our wall there at the back [of the EFF head­quar­ters board­room where its cam­paign pil­lars are painted], there is noth­ing [about] Zuma there.

Zuma is a very clear ex­am­ple of cor­rup­tion and, as an an­ticor­rup­tion and cor­rup­tion-free or­gan­i­sa­tion, we ought to sin­gle him out. [Some peo­ple] think he is de­serv­ing of all those things he has, par­tic­u­larly our black peo­ple who be­lieve a king must be given all sorts of things. Build a house for the king, do all sorts of things for the king. But we ac­tu­ally come to make them aware that Zuma is not a king.

My grand­mother used to be­lieve strongly there was noth­ing wrong with Zuma’s house. So I said to her: ‘OK, there is no prob­lem; the coun­cil­lor here is also our king. Let’s take out money here be­cause he is our Zuma here. Let’s take out money and build that man a proper house.’ She said: ‘Hey, hey, hey, no. Not my money, no. Not this one.’ There is noth­ing royal in their blood; they are not there be­cause they are born to be there. They are elected lead­ers, and elected lead­ers must at all times be ac­count­able. We use [the cam­paign to] also call out the mini Zu­mas: to say to them: if you con­tinue with the way you are, you are go­ing to be caught.

PHOTO: LUCKY NX­U­MALO

FIRE­BRAND EFF leader Julius Malema at the me­dia briefing where he ad­dressed Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s an­nounce­ment that he would pay back some of the pub­lic money spent on up­grades to his Nkandla res­i­dence. He also dis­cussed the ax­ing of Nh­lanhla Nene and the al­leged cor­rup­tion by the Gupta fam­ily

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