FORCES GEAR UP FOR THE ZUMA WAR

As mas­sive pres­sure builds up against Zuma over his reshuf­fle, the ques­tion re­mains whether it will be enough to fi­nally get him out of of­fice

CityPress - - Front Page - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI, SETUMO STONE, ANDISIWE MAKINANA, S’THEMBILE CELE and PADDY HARPER news@city­press.co.za

I ntense mo­bil­i­sa­tion is un­der way to push out Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who has be­come in­creas­ingly iso­lated af­ter his shock reshuf­fle this week.

The mid­night an­nounce­ment, which in­cluded the dis­missal of fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and his deputy, Mce­bisi Jonas, has re­sulted in a re­bel­lion within the ANC and wide­spread calls across so­ci­ety for him to be ousted.

The fu­neral and me­mo­rial ser­vices for ANC stal­wart Ahmed Kathrada, who was crit­i­cal of Zuma, were used as the spring­board for this cam­paign.

The reshuf­fle sparked an un­prece­dented public face-off be­tween Zuma and half of the ANC’s top six in Luthuli House, who re­jected his de­ci­sion and pub­licly dis­tanced the party from his choices.

A mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Par­lia­ment – ini­ti­ated by op­po­si­tion par­ties, but sup­ported by ANC MPs who are anti-Zuma – is be­ing planned.

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) and the DA have an­nounced that they are talk­ing to ANC MPs, many of whom seem re­cep­tive to the idea.

But there are con­cerns that mo­men­tum could be lost as Par­lia­ment is in re­cess and only re­sumes on May 9.

And there are con­cerns that Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Baleka Mbete, who is also the na­tional chair­per­son of the ANC, may drag this out to make sure tem­per­a­tures cool down.

She is cur­rently over­seas on par­lia­men­tary busi­ness and is only due back on Thurs­day.

Those back­ing the mo­tion also fear that Zuma’s al­lies may have time to lobby MPs one by one while in their home dis­tricts.

ANC Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe said yes­ter­day he dis­agreed with Zuma but that he was not about to write the ANC’s obituary be­cause “the ANC deals with many is­sues and for 105 years it has re­solved them”. He de­fended his break­ing ranks with Zuma. “I am do­ing what I think is right and I am do­ing it to the best of my abil­ity,” Man­tashe said.

He said de­spite crit­i­cism from Zuma’s back­ers that he was de­fy­ing his author­ity, his mes­sage to grass roots ANC mem­bers re­mained that “there is a Cabi­net reshuf­fle that has been done with­out proper con­sul­ta­tion with the ANC”.

ANC Trea­surer-Gen­eral Zweli Mkhize said this reshuf­fle was dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous ones, where there had been gen­uine con­sul­ta­tion with se­nior of­fi­cials.

Mkhize said while he re­spected Zuma’s pre­rog­a­tive, it was im­por­tant “to en­sure that such de­ci­sions made Zuma’s back­ers con­cluded in re­cent weeks that it was safe to get rid of op­po­nents such as Gord­han. They ad­vised him that ‘it is high time to move’ can be owned, jus­ti­fied and de­fended by the lead­er­ship col­lec­tive”.

He high­lighted his dis­com­fort with Gord­han’s re­call from an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion tour.

Yes­ter­day, Mkhize at­tended the of­fi­cial open­ing of the West­gate Grange so­cial hous­ing pro­ject in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, over which Zuma presided. He was part of the group of of­fi­cials who shared a photo op­por­tu­nity with the pres­i­dent, but left the event be­fore Zuma spoke.

Ear­lier, Mkhize spent time speak­ing to Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu, who is also a fel­low na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber. She, too, left the func­tion.

Ad­dress­ing the event, KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC chair­per­son and act­ing premier Sihle Zikalala de­fended Zuma’s Cabi­net reshuf­fle, say­ing serv­ing in govern­ment was “like a re­lay”.

He said all those who were ap­pointed should be “re­spon­si­ble enough” to “ac­cept when it is time to hand over to oth­ers”.

In his speech, Zuma, who cracked jokes de­spite look­ing strained, made no men­tion of the reshuf­fle or the calls for his res­ig­na­tion over it.

‘ZUMA’S DAYS ARE NUM­BERED’

SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) sec­ond deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Solly Ma­paila told City Press Zuma’s days were num­bered.

The ANC’s al­liance part­ner emerged from its polit­buro on Fri­day night with a mes­sage that it wanted him to re­sign.

De­spite the fact that its de­ploy­ees in govern­ment were in­clined to leave, the SACP took a “strate­gic de­ci­sion” for them to stay in­side and fight as govern­ment did not be­long to Zuma. Ma­paila ac­knowl­edged that Zuma’s loy­al­ists would “come for us”, but said they did not have mo­nop­oly over the ANC.

The SACP is now talk­ing about a mass po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme to counter Zuma, and is plan­ning a na­tional im­bizo of or­gan­i­sa­tions on April 22.

ZUMA HAD TO SHOW STRENGTH

City Press has heard that Zuma’s back­ers con­cluded in re­cent weeks that it was safe to get rid of op­po­nents such as Gord­han. They ad­vised him that “it is high time to move” to avoid look­ing weak and be­ing seen to be afraid of rat­ings agen­cies and big busi­ness.

New Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba was only ex­pected to “tin­ker with fis­cal poli­cies here and there, where we need rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion”, said an NEC mem­ber who is close to Zuma.

“So, we dealt with Trea­sury. The rand will go down and it will pick up again be­cause we are not go­ing to come up with ma­jor pol­icy changes.”

Strate­gists in the Zuma camp also noted that Gord­han and those min­is­ters who had chal­lenged Zuma’s author­ity had “no con­stituen­cies” in the ANC and would be un­able to desta­bilise his sup­port.

MO­TION OF NO CON­FI­DENCE

Zuma’s back­ers are con­fi­dent that they will muster the 201 votes needed to stave off a mo­tion of no­con­fi­dence and en­sure his sur­vival. Said one: “It is not easy for an ANC mem­ber, es­pe­cially the back­benchers, to take an anti-ANC po­si­tion.”

An ANC MP, who has been lob­bied by the op­po­si­tion, said this was a des­per­ate move by op­po­si­tion par­ties which was un­likely suc­ceed. The MP also ques­tioned the tim­ing of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Man­tashe’s public crit­i­cisms of Zuma, say­ing it was most likely about the ANC’s suc­ces­sion bat­tle.

“They voted for and sup­ported Zuma all along, de­spite be­ing cau­tioned. Man­tashe would not lis­ten to any­thing about Zuma in Man­gaung.

“Now they want to use peo­ple for their own pro­ject. When did they re­alise the prob­lems with Zuma?”

PRES­SURE ON MBETE

EFF leader Julius Malema has threat­ened to go to court if Mbete does not sched­ule an ur­gent sit­ting.

“If she does not agree, we will take her to court for the court to com­pel her to agree. She does not have a choice,” he said.

Maimane has pub­licly re­vealed that he has been ap­proached by ANC MPs who have promised to vote with him. Malema has said his party was talk­ing to ANC mem­bers to sup­port the mo­tion.

United Demo­cratic Move­ment leader Bantu Holomisa con­firmed that he was lob­by­ing ANC MPs, adding that the ground was fer­tile with an­gry ANC mem­bers.

“Yes, the cam­paign is on. I have never seen so much anger, in­clud­ing in the ANC,” he said.

“We are giv­ing them a chance to prove them­selves, and that is why there is a need for an ur­gent sit­ting. If they vote oth­er­wise, then they are hyp­ocrites.”

The EFF has also ap­plied to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to order Mbete to in­sti­tute im­peach­ment or dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Zuma for con­duct as­so­ci­ated with the Nkandla scan­dal, “in­clud­ing ly­ing to Par­lia­ment on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions”.

Up un­til now, the pro-Zuma fac­tion has held sway and those who have been un­com­fort­able have pre­vi­ously stayed away from the de­bate.

In the last no-con­fi­dence de­bate, held in Novem­ber last year, 214 MPs voted against it, 126 in favour, with one ab­sten­tion and 57 ab­sent.

The EFF is tar­get­ing 70 to 80 ANC MPs to vote with it, based on the re­sults of the last mo­tion.

MORE SHOCK DE­CI­SIONS

Gi­gaba said he was “shocked when I got the call to be the fi­nance min­is­ter on Thurs­day night”.

“I was given no rea­son, but I will per­form my duty,” he said.

“I will not be­tray our peo­ple by al­low­ing in­di­vid­ual or spe­cial in­ter­ests to pre­vail over the public good. There­fore, I will ask scep­ti­cal mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion, the me­dia and the public to judge me on my ac­tions in the com­ing months, not [rely on] spec­u­la­tion and ru­mours.”

The dis­missal of en­ergy min­is­ter Tina Joe­mat-Pet­ters­son came as a shock even to those in the Zuma fac­tion. Joe­mat-Pet­ters­son is known to be a close ally of Zuma. “If we are all this sur­prised about her re­moval, imag­ine how shocked she must be,” said a close as­so­ciate, who sug­gested that Joe­mat-Pet­ters­son was re­moved for her slow move­ment on nu­clear pro­cure­ment.

“When you are given the terms of ref­er­ence, you stick to the terms of ref­er­ence and not add frills that you have not been given. She wasted time on things she was not told to do,” said the source.

THE WAY FOR­WARD

City Press heard there will be no mass res­ig­na­tion of Cabi­net min­is­ters, as had been an­tic­i­pated. The idea is to mo­bilise so­ci­ety to force Zuma out.

Ramaphosa has an­nounced that he is re­main­ing in Cabi­net. “I am stay­ing to serve our peo­ple in govern­ment. I made my views known. There are quite a num­ber of other col­leagues and com­rades who are un­happy about this sit­u­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly the re­moval of the min­is­ter of fi­nance, who was serv­ing the coun­try with ab­so­lute dis­tinc­tion, with great abil­ity, and he has proven that he is a tal­ented per­son…”

The idea was also that re­sign­ing would leave a vac­uum, as Zuma could eas­ily re­place the min­is­ters in any case.

“What hap­pened to all those peo­ple who re­signed in sol­i­dar­ity with [for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo] Mbeki [in 2008]?” said an ANC in­sider.

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