NUM­BER ONE: It’s com­rade ver­sus com­rade

De­fi­ant Zuma raises ques­tions about ANC in­tegrity com­mis­sion’s bias as things heat up be­tween NEC mem­bers call­ing to re­move him

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE, HLENGIWE NHLABATHI and S’THEMBILE CELE news@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma, who sur­vived an at­tempt to re­call him last week, was yes­ter­day locked in an­other meet­ing to han­dle con­cerns about the party’s flail­ing for­tunes and his lead­er­ship thereof. Zuma met the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion at Liliesleaf Farm in Sand­ton well into the af­ter­noon yes­ter­day.

A few mem­bers of the ANC Youth League went to the venue to sup­port Zuma and protest against mem­bers of the com­mis­sion. Zuma was ex­pected to take a de­fi­ant stance. City Press spoke to na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­bers, who said Zuma was com­bat­ive soon af­ter sur­viv­ing a mo­tion for him to step down, declar­ing that he would re­ject any at­tempts by the ANC in­tegrity com­mis­sion to quiz him on Nkandla, the state cap­ture re­port and his re­la­tion­ship with the Gup­tas.

Ac­cord­ing to NEC sources, Zuma also said that he had no con­fi­dence in the in­tegrity com­mis­sion be­cause it was com­pro­mised af­ter some of its mem­bers spoke out against him, City Press heard.

“He said at the NEC that he was go­ing to tell them that they had com­mented on the mat­ter and there­fore he was not go­ing to get a fair hear­ing,” City Press heard from the source as­so­ci­ated with the anti-Zuma lobby group.

The in­tegrity com­mis­sion had in­vited Zuma in his ca­pac­ity as the pres­i­dent of the ANC to a meet­ing to dis­cuss the state and the health of the ANC, party spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said ear­lier this week. Kodwa said there were no charges against Zuma. The du­ties of the com­mis­sion, formed af­ter the party’s res­o­lu­tion at the last na­tional con­fer­ence in Man­gaung in 2012, were to pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tion of ANC in in­stances where mem­bers were ac­cused of im­proper con­duct.

De­spite ru­mours of a Cabi­net reshuf­fle, Zuma told the meet­ing last week­end in his clos­ing ad­dress that those who chal­lenged him would not be vic­timised.

But some have dared Zuma to wield the axe, say­ing that any reshuf­fle would be “fac­tional” and that the of­fice of the pres­i­dent does not be­long to Zuma, but to the ANC.

“It was the ANC that cam­paigned and the ANC that elected him to that of­fice,” an NEC mem­ber who had at­tended the meet­ing last week­end said yes­ter­day, amid per­sis­tent spec­u­la­tion of a pend­ing shake-up.

City Press heard that un­hap­pi­ness with Zuma’s lead­er­ship had been build­ing over time since the Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s Nkandla judg­ment in March, which found that he had vi­o­lated his oath of of­fice.

“But no­body had the courage to speak out. Af­ter meet­ings you would usu­ally have some mum­bling that he is cost­ing us. It be­came worse af­ter the elec­tions,” he said. “The State of Cap­ture re­port was re­ally just too much. Peo­ple felt that we should con­front the old man and ask him to help us.”

The three-day NEC has been de­scribed as a po­lit­i­cal coup that didn’t work. Those who spoke out against Zuma ad­vanced ar­gu­ments that it would be best for the ANC.

They in­clude Then­jiwe Mt­intso, Philly Ma­pu­lane, Joel Net­shiten­zhe and Thu­las Nx­esi.

A pro­posal that Zuma be ex­cused so that mem­bers could dis­cuss the mat­ter freely was not en­ter­tained.

Bheki Cele went di­rectly to the is­sues, say­ing the ANC was an or­gan­i­sa­tion that was un­able to act.

He ques­tioned why there was no ac­count­abil­ity and why, when cer­tain peo­ple were un­der a cloud of sus­pi­cion, they made ex­cuses that they were “re­view­ing” the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­ports.

He said this did not set a good prece­dent as oth­ers would also refuse to be held ac­count­able.

How­ever, they were met with re­sis­tance by those seen to be close to Zuma, de­fend­ing him as they pointed out that those who had no con­fi­dence in him should re­sign from his Cabi­net.

Those who sup­ported Zuma’s re­call then asked whether the fact that they were Cabi­net min­is­ters meant that they should keep quiet about con­cerns at NEC meet­ings.

This is cited as the rea­son ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe cor­rected jour­nal­ists’ ref­er­ence to min­is­ters at the post-NEC press con­fer­ence, say­ing they were mere NEC mem­bers in the meet­ing.

City Press has learnt that African Union chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was among those who spoke against Zuma’s re­moval, say­ing it would di­vide the move­ment. Dlamini-Zuma ap­par­ently cau­tioned against mak­ing the re­call of the pres­i­dent a trend in the ANC. She men­tioned the re­call of Mbeki and the di­vi­sions that fol­lowed, in­clud­ing the found­ing of the Congress of the Peo­ple.

She said that the ANC needed to fo­cus on unity; the re­call of an­other pres­i­dent would have the op­po­site ef­fect and worsen mat­ters. It meant that the next pres­i­dent – af­ter Zuma – could also be eas­ily re­called.

In Zuma’s defence, ANC MP Pule Mabe told the meet­ing that if Zuma stepped down, Man­tashe should fol­low him be­cause he be­trayed the ANC by plot­ting with Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers leader Julius Malema to scup­per govern­ment’s nu­clear deal, ac­cord­ing to a pro-Zuma NEC mem­ber. En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Edna Molewa said ef­forts to get rid of Zuma re­lated to South Africa’s role at Brics. But Mabe’s com­ments, just like the sim­i­lar at­tacks on Jack­son Mthembu, were “not en­ter­tained,” said the an­tiZuma MEC mem­ber. Cyril Ramaphosa is said not to have con­trib­uted much. When the de­bate was over, he merely said that the mat­ter should now be closed as con­sen­sus had been reached. Ear­lier this week, the names of Derek Hanekom, Aaron Mot­soaledi, Thu­las Nx­esi, Jack­son Mthembu, Naledi Pan­dor and Pravin Gord­han were listed among those who were ru­moured to be re­sign­ing, but this has been proven un­true. “There was a lot of panic this week; min­is­ters were wait­ing for the bomb to drop on Fri­day. We didn’t know what would hap­pen af­ter th­ese de­vel­op­ments at the NEC. This is a strat­egy to fight Zuma to not reshuf­fle, so that his term ex­pires with­out touch­ing them,” said an NEC mem­ber.

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