How Zuma won a reprieve
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.