‘NUM­BER ONE IS HERE TO STAY’

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­press.co.za

ANC deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jessie Duarte in­sists that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will not step down and that the party will not force him to.

She said it was too early for peo­ple to pass judge­ment on Zuma un­til he was given a chance to re­spond to the State of Cap­ture re­port.

Duarte said, while ANC lead­ers wel­comed civil so­ci­ety ac­tivism, equally vig­or­ous ef­forts needed to be ex­erted re­gard­ing the coun­try’s jobs cri­sis – par­tic­u­larly by the CEOs who at­tended the Save SA cam­paign launch on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s not just [a case of get­ting] rid of [Zuma] and the ANC and then, voila, jobs will be cre­ated. It doesn’t work like that, we are open to en­gag­ing. What we fail to en­gage with is peo­ple who are march­ing past us in the streets wear­ing the colours of the ANC, but un­der a strange ban­ner.”

Duarte said the party’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee meet­ing to­mor­row would likely dis­cuss “what’s fac­ing us in the streets”.

Duarte said she would have re­spected the ANC vet­er­ans more if they had in­ter­vened when Vuwani was burn­ing. “There must be fair­ness in this whole de­bate; come get your hands dirty with us.”

But the door was open for them to lend their ex­pe­ri­ence in the branches.

Duarte said the ANC was yet to re­ceive for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki’s leaked let­ter urg­ing Zuma to meet the stal­warts. The is­sue, she said, would also be dis­cussed at to­mor­row’s meet­ing.

“We can’t sit there and say there is noth­ing go­ing on, there is a lot go­ing on,” Duarte said.

“Many of these peo­ple mak­ing the al­le­ga­tions against the pres­i­dent have yet to tell us where there has been a crim­i­nal charge against him.”

She said the ANC and not Zuma was the real tar­get. “We are wor­ried about that, and it’s been con­sis­tent.”

She said noth­ing was wrong with those who had spo­ken out on state cap­ture and the charg­ing of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han. They were called to Luthuli House to ex­plain them­selves this week and their ex­pla­na­tions were ac­cepted, Duarte said.

Duarte said calls for Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity head Shaun Abra­hams to re­sign were “un­fair”.

“At­tempts to politi­cise that of­fice is an old one. It is grossly un­fair to con­stantly make se­nior pub­lic of­fi­cials pay the price for what op­po­si­tion won’t ac­cept as re­al­ity,” she said.

Duarte slammed for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela, charg­ing that she had made the pres­i­dent “her spe­cial project” and that the con­tents of her re­port were pre­de­ter­mined. How­ever, she said the ANC was look­ing at the re­port “very in­ten­sively”.

Duarte agreed with Zuma and min­is­ters Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen that the re­port didn’t fol­low the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of law and fair­ness, as “it doesn’t re­flect re­sponses of those im­pli­cated”.

“This re­port makes in­sin­u­a­tions that are dam­ag­ing to peo­ple’s rep­u­ta­tions and the best thing is for the re­port to be put un­der very, very se­vere scru­tiny so that peo­ple who have been men­tioned have the right to re­spond and have the right to ask ques­tions.”

She also ques­tioned why Madon­sela took away Zuma’s pre­rog­a­tive to ap­point a judge to lead a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry, in­sist­ing that chief jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng do so in­stead, and that Trea­sury en­sure the com­mis­sion was ad­e­quately funded.

Duarte said the ANC’s at­tempts to probe state cap­ture had been scup­pered by peo­ple not com­ing for­ward. She added it was dan­ger­ous to fo­cus on a sin­gle fam­ily.

With the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence tak­ing place next year and the 2019 elec­tions just over two years away, ANC lead­ers are wor­ried about the im­pact of the saga on the party. “We are con­cerned, of course,” Duarte said.

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