How Zuma won a re­prieve

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

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was guar­an­teed a longer stay in his po­si­tion af­ter his back­ers last week shot down a pro­posal that the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) only dis­cuss the Nkandla and Gupta re­ports af­ter the Au­gust 3 lo­cal elec­tions.

His sup­port­ers in the NEC de­cided that fi­nal­is­ing dis­cus­sions last week would pro­tect Zuma from blame if the ANC’s per­for­mance were to de­cline in the elec­tions.

The meet­ing then de­cided to ac­cept Zuma’s apol­ogy on the Nkandla mat­ter, clos­ing any prospect of forc­ing him to re­sign over it.

This means that, although there could still be tough dis­cus­sions about the elec­tion out­come if the party loses sup­port, th­ese would not be lumped with the Nkandla and Gupta mat­ters to at­tack Zuma.

The sug­ges­tion by ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa at the NEC meet­ing to de­fer the de­ci­sion, mo­ti­vated on the grounds of unity, had been warmly wel­comed on Mon­day two weeks ago un­til those sym­pa­thetic to Zuma made a U-turn dur­ing sub­mis­sions, re­sult­ing in the meet­ing drag­ging on longer than ex­pected and end­ing at around 9pm.

“We pushed them back and they re­treated. They wanted to with­draw the re­port, say­ing that it must not be dis­cussed.

“They are cun­ning,” a pro-Zuma se­nior ANC leader told City Press.

He said his group was also able to push the NEC to take a firm stance against the banks’ acts of col­lu­sion when they ter­mi­nated busi­ness re­la­tions with the Gup­tas.

The de­vel­op­ments demon­strated the depth of mistrust in the gov­ern­ing party, since both the Nkandla and Gupta scan­dals threat­ened to cut short Zuma’s sec­ond term as pres­i­dent of the coun­try and the ANC.

When asked to com­ment on the dis­cus­sions, both Kodwa and ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe told City Press that it would be ex­tremely ill-dis­ci­plined to com­ment on dis­cus­sions at the NEC.

A pro-Zuma se­nior leader said it was sus­pi­cious that Kodwa would pro­pose that the re­port on Nkandla be held back while he was in fact a part of the na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee’s (NWC’s) de­ci­sion that the mat­ter be closed.

“[Gwede Man­tashe] pre­sented the re­port from the NWC. When we were sup­posed to dis­cuss it, one of them stands up and pro­poses that the re­port needs time. They be­came aware that they were on the los­ing side. They wanted that if there was a de­cline in the elec­tions, then they blame the old man,” the leader said.

He said Kodwa was a mem­ber of the NWC and “you can­not sit in the NWC, con­clude the re­port and, af­ter it is read, you come up with a coun­ter­pro­posal that the mat­ter be pushed back un­til af­ter the elec­tions”.

“We were also wait­ing for them on the [Gupta] re­port and again they re­treated. In the NEC state­ment, we are chas­ing the banks on the is­sues of col­lu­sion. We won the ar­gu­ment that state cap­ture must be broad­ened to in­clude cor­po­rate cap­ture. It must be clearly ex­plained.”

Another NEC mem­ber said Kodwa’s pro­posal was “in­no­cent”. “It was just a pro­posal by one of the com­rades be­cause some of the is­sues on the agenda had the po­ten­tial to di­vide the NEC and the party.”

How­ever, he said, the pro­posal “ac­tu­ally did not have se­ri­ous merit be­cause the re­port it­self was say­ing, let us close th­ese is­sues, so there was no point in post­pon­ing”.

“There was no strat­egy be­hind that thing, but I could pick up when they were speak­ing that they thought there was some­thing be­yond the pro­posal, but there was noth­ing,” he said.

He said the ANC was still ex­pected to submit a re­port of the as­sess­ment of its elec­toral per­for­mance, and those who wanted to blame Zuma could still use that op­por­tu­nity.

The mo­men­tum to re­move Zuma from inside the party has sig­nif­i­cantly sub­sided af­ter Gaut­eng, which was one of the main driv­ers of the mo­tion, changed tack and ac­cepted the apol­ogy as well.

Gaut­eng ANC lead­ers have told City Press that they were no longer go­ing to waste time try­ing to get Zuma out as that would not suc­ceed any­way.

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