ZUMA BLAZ­ING COMES OUT GUNS

Quelling dis­senters, the pres­i­dent stands firm on calls for land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion – and on Andile Lungisa

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma took a strong stand at this week­end’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing in Irene in Gaut­eng, de­fend­ing his po­si­tion on the is­sue of land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, and chal­leng­ing his crit­ics to read the ANC’s 2012 con­fer­ence res­o­lu­tions if they dis­agreed with his views.

City Press heard that Zuma had “set the record straight” by “ex­plain­ing where the pol­icy comes from and call­ing those who have been crit­i­cis­ing him in the me­dia to or­der”.

ANC Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, Trea­sur­erGen­eral Zweli Mkhize and head of the eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion sub­com­mit­tee Enoch Godong­wana were among those who had de­scribed re­cent talk of land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion as “pop­ulist” and “play­ing to the gallery”.

An NEC mem­ber sym­pa­thetic to Zuma said the pres­i­dent de­tailed the his­tor­i­cal back­ground of the land ques­tion, dat­ing back to the time of the late ANC pres­i­dent, Oliver Tambo, “who said the core of our strug­gle was about land”.

Zuma con­cluded that “talk of pop­ulism was an in­di­ca­tor that the peo­ple do not read [ANC] con­fer­ence res­o­lu­tions, and that is why they do not im­ple­ment them”.

A meet­ing of the ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee on Mon­day had also de­bated the land ques­tion, re­sult­ing in a de­ci­sion that a spe­cial NEC gath­er­ing be called be­fore the na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence, set to take place from June 30 to July 5, to thor­oughly dis­cuss the ANC’s po­si­tion.

Those with knowl­edge of the Mon­day meet­ing de­scribed it as “tense and hot”.

The NEC this week­end agreed with the work­ing com­mit­tee on the im­por­tance of hold­ing a spe­cial meet­ing to dis­cuss land pol­icy.

The NEC mem­ber who spoke to City Press said Zuma was “re­mind­ing peo­ple that the ANC’s own res­o­lu­tions could not be called pop­ulist state­ments”.

“[Zuma] said he did not want to talk to peo­ple through the me­dia. That is why he kept quiet and waited for the NEC plat­form to ex­plain his po­si­tion.

“He was as­sert­ing his au­thor­ity, chal­leng­ing those who say the pol­icy does not be­long to the ANC to ex­plain its ori­gin,” City Press heard.

“It can­not be that we spoke about this thing in 2012, and when we point out that we failed to im­ple­ment it, you talk about rhetoric. Are you say­ing the branches of the ANC did not ap­ply their minds cor­rectly?” he quoted the pres­i­dent as say­ing.

How­ever, de­spite start­ing on a high note, yes­ter­day ended with a dis­ap­point­ment for Zuma’s back­ers as the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee re­jected Andile Lungisa’s bid to stay as chair­per­son of the ANC in Nel­son Man­dela Bay re­gion (Port El­iz­a­beth) in East­ern Cape.

Those at­tend­ing the meet­ing said a pend­ing de­ci­sion was on whether Lungisa, who de­fied ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe by stand­ing for the post while he was still a mem­ber of the higher provi­cial ex­ec­u­tive - and seem­ingly en­dorsed by Zuma - should apol­o­gise or face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion. Man­tashe had ob­jected to Lungisa’s de­ci­sion to stand for the post, on the grounds that he was still a mem­ber of the ANC pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive in the East­ern Cape, and this pro­hib­ited him from con­test­ing a seat in the re­gional struc­ture. He added that the ANC’s top six had nul­li­fied Lungisa’s elec­tion.

Zuma’s close al­lies lost the bat­tle. They ear­lier told City Press that Lungisa was prop­erly elected and was not go­ing to re­sign.

“There is no cri­sis. That guy has been elected by a con­sti­tu­tional struc­ture of the ANC. He is the chair­per­son of the re­gion. The big­ger agenda is that we need young lead­ers in the ANC and [Lungisa] gave us an op­por­tu­nity for the ANC to be rein­vig­o­rated.”

How­ever, oth­ers in­side the ANC had feared that a de­ci­sion in favour of Lungisa would mean that other in­stances where mem­bers had been stopped from con­test­ing in re­gional struc­tures, while they served in up­per struc­tures, would also have to be re­viewed. For in­stance, this would mean the eThek­wini re­gional con­fer­ence would have to be re­opened to al­low Deputy Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Bheki Cele, also a mem­ber of the ANC’s NEC, to stand af­ter he was blocked by Man­tashe in 2014. Nul­li­fy­ing eThek­wini would also mean dis­solv­ing the fol­low-up KwaZulu-Na­tal ANC pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence, which saw Zuma’s sup­port­ers make a clean sweep by tak­ing the top five po­si­tions in the prov­ince. The pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence was also the sub­ject of an on­go­ing court case over al­le­ga­tions of elec­tion-rig­ging. “It would also mean that the ANC in the Western Cape should be dis­solved so that Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form Deputy Min­is­ter Mce­bisi Sk­wat­sha could con­test for a po­si­tion in the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive, since he was also stopped,” said the in­sider. Mar­ius Frans­man, a close Zuma ally, had won the po­si­tion of chair­per­son at the Western Cape pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence, but he was later sus­pended on charges of bring­ing the ANC into dis­re­pute fol­low­ing rape al­le­ga­tions.

Former ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Mathews Phosa said he ex­pected that there should be con­se­quences when ANC rules were not be­ing fol­lowed.

“We have reached a crit­i­cal point in the his­tory of our coun­try and move­ment, where the peo­ple of our coun­try are fast los­ing con­fi­dence in us as we suf­fo­cate from one scan­dal to another. We have to re­store the trust of our peo­ple as we re­claim our space. We can­not con­tinue to be seen as pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of im­mu­nity, with no con­se­quences for wrong­do­ing,” said Phosa

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