Gaut­eng ANC forced to ac­cept Zuma

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE and HLENGIWE NHLABATHI news@city­press.co.za

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.”

Paul Mashatile

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