In an at­tempt to save his pres­i­dency, Ja­cob Zuma is us­ing his tried-and-tested tac­tic of play­ing vic­tim to ap­peal to his grass roots sup­port­ers


Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is wag­ing a des­per­ate bat­tle for his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival and has gone all out in a war against his per­ceived en­e­mies in­side and out­side the ANC. With the tide turn­ing against him in the party, Zuma has re­sorted to tried-and-tested tac­tics that have en­sured his stay­ing power: play­ing the vic­tim and ap­peal­ing di­rectly to the grass roots ANC mem­ber­ship.

In the past few days, the pres­i­dent has gone on the of­fen­sive.

In a se­ries of ral­lies on his home turf of KwaZu­luNatal, and in sym­pa­thetic Mpumalanga, Zuma has fired salvoes at his own com­rades, party veter­ans, op­po­si­tion par­ties, white busi­ness and Western pow­ers, all of whom he ac­cused of be­ing in a con­spir­acy to bring down the ANC.

The ral­lies – dubbed cadre fo­rums – have been or­gan­ised by his most loyal sup­port­ers in par­ti­san prov­inces to mo­bilise the de­fence of his em­bat­tled pres­i­dency.

More such fo­rums, which are meant for the po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion of branch mem­bers, are ex­pected in the com­ing weeks.

This week­end’s ral­lies come on the eve of what is ex­pected to be a hos­tile meet­ing to­mor­row be­tween the ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee and a del­e­ga­tion from the so-called 101 veter­ans, who have called for Zuma’s res­ig­na­tion and the con­ven­ing of a con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to fix the ANC.

A shaky Zuma will then go into next week­end’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing un­cer­tain of the mood in the ANC body which has tra­di­tion­ally shielded him. In the ral­lies Zuma has:

Com­pared the at­tacks on him and the ANC to the cru­ci­fix­ion of Je­sus Christ Said he is not “crazy” Ac­cused close col­leagues and com­rades – with­out nam­ing them – of paint­ing him as a thief while they them­selves are steal­ing Warned those whom he is ac­cus­ing that they “know who they are” – a thinly veiled ad­mon­ish­ment to his foes La­belled his de­trac­tors within the ANC as “witches” Al­luded to Western pow­ers hav­ing a hand in the ANC’s woes, claim­ing they want to de­stroy the Brics bloc – re­fer­ring to the five emerg­ing economies of Brazil, Rus­sia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) – and that they see South Africa as an easy tar­get in this quest. Speak­ing at a rally in Acorn­hoek in Mpumalanga yes­ter­day, Zuma urged ANC mem­bers to de­fend their party – and, by ex­ten­sion, him – against its en­e­mies, such as the Western pow­ers and white cap­i­tal, which he ac­cused of us­ing peo­ple as pawns to fur­ther their agen­das. “Our en­e­mies buy cer­tain peo­ple to be used as zom­bies ... Let us stand with the ANC and build a strong al­liance. They do not want the ANC be­cause it is do­ing good for the coun­try. Even Je­sus Christ was cru­ci­fied be­cause he came here to save us,” he said. The party’s KwaZulu-Natal chair­per­son, Sihle Zikalala, and his Mpumalanga coun­ter­part, David Mabuza, used their re­spec­tive plat­forms to vow that Zuma was go­ing nowhere. In his ad­dress to ANC cadres at a packed Pi­eter­mar­itzburg City Hall on Fri­day, Zuma also linked the calls for his re­moval to South Africa’s mem­ber­ship of Brics, which is es­tab­lish­ing its own in­ter­na­tional bank, the New Devel­op­ment Bank. “We did not even go to that bank called the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund, and the World Bank, to ask for money. Most peo­ple do not like this be­cause we can­not be told what to do,” he said. In Acorn­hoek he blasted ANC veter­ans and cast as­per­sions on their mo­tives for speak­ing out.

“Our en­e­mies are paid big monies to kill the ANC. Some of them claim to have been mem­bers of the ANC for many years, but when they com­plain, they do not fol­low ANC pro­ce­dures.”

Zuma added that, in­stead of fol­low­ing ANC pro­ce­dures, they ran to the me­dia.

“They don’t com­plain within ANC struc­tures, but they speak to the me­dia. Where is ANC dis­ci­pline? They claim to have ANC val­ues, but they don’t talk to the ANC.”

Zuma said that the ANC’s en­e­mies com­plained about cor­rup­tion, even though the party had es­tab­lished in­sti­tu­tions to fight it. “Just be­cause we are fight­ing cor­rup­tion, they change the story and say the ANC is cor­rupt. We al­ways take steps against cor­rup­tion.”

The real rea­son he and the ANC were un­der pres­sure, he said, was that white busi­ness was scared about eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. “They have the money ... In all coun­tries of the world, the in­dige­nous peo­ple are in charge of ev­ery­thing – pol­i­tics, the econ­omy and se­cu­rity.

“Even here, African coun­tries with weak economies have Africans own­ing the econ­omy, but in South Africa black peo­ple do not own the econ­omy,” he said.

In Pi­eter­mar­itzburg he made oblique ref­er­ence to the re­ac­tion to his re­moval of for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene. Talk­ing about “what hap­pened last De­cem­ber”, he re­peated his al­le­ga­tion that he was forced to drop his cho­sen re­place­ment, Des van Rooyen, by forces who threat­ened to “burn the coun­try”.

He in­sisted that he was of sound mind and was not afraid of his en­e­mies.

“At least I know who [my en­e­mies] are and what they are do­ing. I am not wor­ried. If I was crazy, I would make the whole of South Africa crazy as well.”

Mean­while, the del­e­ga­tion of ANC stal­warts call­ing for Zuma to go could find a hos­tile re­cep­tion at a sched­uled meet­ing with the ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee to­mor­row.

In a batch of emails leaked to the me­dia, con­cerns were ex­pressed among the party’s for­mer lead­ers that the work­ing com­mit­tee was a “fac­tional” group which was un­likely to of­fer “a ma­ture po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion”.

Our en­e­mies buy cer­tain peo­ple to be used as zom­bies ... Let us stand with the ANC and build a strong al­liance

The stal­warts want the party to hold a spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence, at which the res­ig­na­tion of the cur­rent lead­er­ship can be dis­cussed.

Vet­eran ANC par­tic­i­pants, such as for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Trevor Manuel and Khulu Mbatha, said they would rather press for a smaller meet­ing with the ANC’s top six than go as a large group to face the 25-mem­ber work­ing com­mit­tee.

Mavuso Msi­mang, the for­mer di­rec­tor-gen­eral of home af­fairs, said his un­der­stand­ing was al­ways that the 101 stal­warts re­quested a meet­ing with the ANC lead­er­ship “to dis­cuss or in­form them about the con­tent and tim­ing of the planned con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence”.

Msi­mang said he “would not be averse to our meet­ing the work­ing com­mit­tee del­e­ga­tion if the pur­pose of such a meet­ing is to re­ca­pit­u­late the ob­jec­tives of the 101 el­ders and not sub­ject them to rene­go­ti­a­tion”.

The con­cerned group’s pos­ture has been de­scribed by those back­ing Zuma as “disin­gen­u­ous and dis­hon­est”.

“Go­ing to meet the na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee with a pre­de­ter­mined out­come and ex­pec­ta­tions – and even in­sult­ing the ANC struc­ture as be­ing a pro-Zuma group – is wrong and de­feats the pur­pose of en­gag­ing gen­uinely,” said a Zuma sym­pa­thiser.

The in­volve­ment of Mbatha, a known ally of for­mer pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe; Eureka Smith, the per­sonal as­sis­tant of Tokyo Sexwale; and Mukoni Rat­shi­tanga, the spokesper­son for for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, had also been ques­tioned – be­cause “they are not veter­ans”.

“Mbeki, Mot­lanthe and Sexwale can­not be ex­on­er­ated from hav­ing a covert hand and be­ing the masters of the de­struc­tion of the ANC, be­cause they are hav­ing prox­ies in the mail chain who are far from be­ing called stal­warts of the ANC,” said the loy­al­ist.

Rat­shi­tanga said yes­ter­day he was in­cluded in the group to keep his el­derly fa­ther, Rashaka Rat­shi­tanga, in­formed of de­vel­op­ments.

Zuma is also grad­u­ally los­ing the sup­port of labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu, hav­ing al­ready lost that of his party’s other tri­par­tite ally, the SA Com­mu­nist Party.

The lat­est bat­tle will be fought at Cosatu’s cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee this week, dur­ing which af­fil­i­ates will pres­surise the fed­er­a­tion to adopt a po­si­tion for Zuma to re­sign.

The Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers’ Union and the Na­tional Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union have al­ready pro­nounced that Zuma should leave for the sake of the ANC.

City Press has learnt that lead­ers of af­fil­i­ates have been un­happy about Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini’s at­tempts to frus­trate this dis­cus­sion.


TALK­ING TOUGH Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ad­dresses ANC mem­bers at a cadre fo­rum held at Pi­eter­mar­itzburg City Hall in KwaZulu-Natal on Fri­day

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