Op­po­si­tion coali­tion against Zuma stut­ters

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) has dis­tanced it­self from a for­ma­tion of civil so­ci­ety and op­po­si­tion par­ties, ex­pos­ing cracks in a bid to bring Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma down.

In a let­ter, which City Press has seen, EFF sec­re­tary-gen­eral Go­drich Gardee writes that an agree­ment was not reached on the for­ma­tion of the Free­dom Move­ment, which was launched on Thurs­day in Soweto. The launch was ad­dressed by United Demo­cratic Move­ment (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and po­lit­i­cal scholar Prince Mashele, among others.

The Free­dom Move­ment said it had been es­tab­lished to pro­tect the South African Con­sti­tu­tion and to re­move Zuma from of­fice. It said the move had been en­dorsed by the likes of Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu and other op­po­si­tion par­ties.

When asked about the ab­sence of EFF lead­ers, Maimane said that the party was “sup­port­ive”, but that it would not be in­volved in every planned event as it was resource in­ten­sive.

Lead­ers of op­po­si­tion par­ties met at the Premier Ho­tel at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Tues­day to map a way for­ward af­ter two mass demon­stra­tions ear­lier this month in which thou­sands of South Africans took to the streets to call for Zuma to re­sign.

In Gardee’s let­ter – sent to op­po­si­tion lead­ers fol­low­ing the press con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the launch of the Free­dom Move­ment – he said the for­ma­tion of the Free­dom Move­ment was not dis­cussed.

“In the meet­ing on April 18 2017, no re­fer­ral, at least an agree­ment, was reached to col­lab­o­rate in the es­tab­lish­ment of an alternative move­ment called the Free­dom Move­ment. What was dis­cussed was a col­lab­o­ra­tion to counter the gov­ern­ment rally on April 27 with a rally or a march sub­ject to del­e­gates’ feed­back on such an ini­tia­tive from their lead­er­ship col­lec­tive by no later than April 19,” the let­ter reads.

“The EFF wishes to dis­tance it­self from any no­tion or im­pres­sion to as­so­ci­ate the EFF with the es­tab­lish­ment of the Free­dom Move­ment, and dis­putes same as hav­ing been dis­cussed and agreed to in the Tues­day meet­ing at Premier Ho­tel OR Tambo.”

This was not the first sign of trouble in the op­po­si­tion camp. On Mon­day evening, the DA an­nounced a march to the provin­cial Trea­sury of­fice in Lim­popo on Tues­day. The party said its demon­stra­tion would be joined by other op­po­si­tion par­ties, in­clud­ing Cope and the EFF, but they were not rep­re­sented.

In­stead, a hand­ful of peo­ple clad in DA re­galia gath­ered in Polokwane and Maimane gave a brief speech. Other op­po­si­tion par­ties said that not enough plan­ning and consultation had gone into Tues­day’s demon­stra­tion.

Mean­while, op­po­si­tion par­ties are wait­ing to hear from the Con­sti­tu­tional Court if it will hear them out on a call for the use of a se­cret bal­lot in the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Zuma. The mo­tion was meant to be de­bated this past Tues­day, but was post­poned pend­ing the out­come of the court’s de­ci­sion.

The launch of the Free­dom Move­ment also in­cluded the an­nounce­ment of the call for a na­tional con­ven­tion. Holomisa said that letters call­ing for par­tic­i­pa­tion had been sent to foun­da­tions, busi­nesses and po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing the ANC.

He told City Press this week that the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the ANC in the na­tional con­ven­tion was key as it would bring with it funds as the gov­ern­ing party, and any res­o­lu­tions made could be gazetted and made of­fi­cial.

Holomisa said that it would be clear to South Africans that the ANC no longer cared about the coun­try if it chose not to par­tic­i­pate.

“That’s fine. If they [the ANC] say no of­fi­cially, it is good. Then South Africans will say: ‘Al­right, how do we pre­pare for 2019 so that th­ese res­o­lu­tions are im­ple­mented in two and a half years?’ They will have to choose be­tween the peo­ple and one man,” the UDM leader said.

“If, for in­stance, we say there must be elec­toral re­forms, that peo­ple want to elect their pres­i­dent in 2025, we must start that process now. If the ANC says they don’t want to be part of this, we’ll go ahead with our man­i­festos col­lec­tively. Then we go to the peo­ple. Th­ese are the prepa­ra­tions that are un­der way for 2019; it has started.”

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