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


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.


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.


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.