‘NUMBER ONE IS HERE TO STAY’
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.