Gauteng ANC forced to accept Zuma
The Gauteng ANC leadership’s push for President Jacob Zuma to step down was defeated by the argument that the party should not be swayed by the wishes of a middle class minority, when most ANC voters were working class and poor.
Provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile and his executive were forced into “a strategic retreat” from their position at last weekend’s provincial general council. This after some structures warned that provincial delegates should not stand against the national stance that Zuma’s apology for breaching the oath of office should be accepted.
The provincial executive committee had, in the wake of the Constitutional Court ruling on the president’s handling of the Public Protector’s Nkandla report, called on Zuma to “do the right thing”.
But at last weekend’s general council, Zuma’s backers – led by the women, youth and veterans’ leagues – warned Mashatile that if the party lost power in key municipalities, the provincial executive would be held accountable.
This could easily give ammunition to Luthuli House to disband the provincial leadership and force an early elective conference, City Press has learnt. However, those backing Mashatile said that he had opted for a strategic retreat intended to unite the province ahead of the ANC’s 2017 leadership succession race, amid indications that taking on Zuma would have “compromised the programme to have Mashatile in the top ANC leadership”. A Gauteng ANC Youth League leader said there was a strong feeling that the party should focus on elections, instead of worrying about middle class concerns such as the conduct of the president.
The meeting had generally accepted that Nkandla was largely an issue for the middle class and people with high access to print and online media.
“While the middle class is concentrated in Gauteng, it is not the majority,” she said. “The people obsessed by this ‘Zuma Must Go’ agenda are predominantly those with access to media and the internet. The majority are more concerned about the day-to-day struggles that they are dealing with. Service delivery and the ability to survive on a daily basis are what concern them. Nkandla is not the obsession of the poor and the working class.”
Another insider confirmed that working class concerns had won over middle class ones.
“For every suburb, there is a much bigger squatter camp, and the views of people in informal settlements and townships on Nkandla are unclear,” he said.
The delegate added that, while the middle class would be angry about the lack of Wi-Fi, the poor would be more upset about basic services.
“What eventually prevailed is [the question] that, if you go all out for the middle class to convince them, are you sure the numbers will be enough for you to get the target electoral outcome? The answer is no, you cannot be sure.”
A Tshwane branch leader said Mashatile conceded when he realised that most branches wanted Zuma to stay. “They also pushed this thing that Gauteng always wants to isolate itself and discredit the national executive committee. The province is always embarrassed at losing key ANC debates, as if it does not understand democratic centralism,” he said.
He added that Mashatile was told that he could not represent himself but the branches of the ANC. “In any case, the Constitutional Court did not say Zuma is guilty, but that he acted inconsistently.”
Gauteng ANC secretary Hope Papo said earlier this week that the general council had made a decision that was in the best interests of the organisation.
Gauteng ANC spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said: “Beyond the collective decision of the PGC on the matter, we cannot dignify speculatory comments by faceless sources whose motives are not known.”