How Zuma sur­vived the NEC on­slaught

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s re­silience pre­vailed once again at the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing last weekend, with a range of pro­pos­als to deal with com­plaints against him thrown in the hat but ul­ti­mately de­feated in the same man­ner as the mo­tion that he step down.

And when the meet­ing ended on Sun­day night at St George Ho­tel in Irene, Tsh­wane, it was Zuma’s turn to blast those who gunned for his head. In a hard-hit­ting 70-minute speech he, for the first time, de­fended him­self and re­minded some that they have the priv­i­lege of serv­ing in Cab­i­net “at his pre­rog­a­tive”. City Press heard from both the pro- and an­tiZuma camps that the first pro­posal to be shot down came from ANC sec­re­tary­gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, who had wanted a smaller team of NEC mem­bers to dis­cuss Zuma’s fu­ture and re­port back to the struc­ture.

The pro­posal, which Man­tashe tabled soon af­ter ANC pol­icy guru Joel Net­shiten­zhe called for Zuma to step down, in­cluded the for­ma­tion of a five-a-side team from those sup­port­ing the mo­tion and those against it in a bid to avoid a re­peat of a lengthy and con­fronta­tional de­bate. (The mo­tion against Zuma was the sec­ond one since Novem­ber last year.)

The com­mit­tee would then craft a res­o­lu­tion on the mat­ter that would be adopted by the NEC. How­ever, ex­cept for the likes of for­mer pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion min­is­ter Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi, “most peo­ple re­jected the pro­posal”.

An NEC mem­ber in the Zuma camp said while the pro­posal seemed to level the play­ing field, it ac­tu­ally meant that Zuma’s numer­i­cal ma­jor­ity in the NEC would be nul­li­fied. “He [Man­tashe] wanted to cheat us and we saw it,” he said.

Later Land Re­form and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti pro­posed that a com­mit­tee of ANC veter­ans be set up in­stead to look into the Zuma mat­ter. “Many peo­ple sup­ported that one and it could have been a res­o­lu­tion but some­how it fell through the cracks,” an NEC mem­ber said.

His col­league said the idea of a “coun­cil of elders” had long been de­feated at the ANC Polok­wane con­fer­ence in 2007 and it would not work be­cause veter­ans had de­vel­oped po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing call­ing for Zuma to step down.

But Zuma last weekend did not take kindly to the al­le­ga­tions cited as grounds for the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against him, ac­cord­ing to sources. He re­fused to leave the meet­ing de­spite be­ing the sub­ject of the dis­cus­sion on the mo­tion.

Up to 71 se­nior ANC lead­ers spoke dur­ing the de­bate on the mo­tion but al­most half of those who spoke, 29, nei­ther backed nor re­jected the pro­posal. A to­tal of 19 peo­ple sup­ported the mo­tion and 23 were against it.

“Most peo­ple spoke neg­a­tively against the Gup­tas and what is hap­pen­ing, even if some peo­ple de­cided not to sup­port the mo­tion. They spoke about the grow­ing alien­ation of sup­port from ANC mem­bers and the shift in terms of elec­toral sup­port,” said a party leader op­posed to Zuma. “If it had gone to vot­ing he would have been fin­ished.”

But those on Zuma’s side said peo­ple such as Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies had a man­date from the SA Com­mu­nist Party to take an anti-Zuma stance.

At least three sources said that when he closed the meet­ing on Sun­day a fu­ri­ous Zuma de­fended him­self and de­nied that he was to blame for the ANC’s elec­toral de­cline. He ap­par­ently pointed at Deputy Health Min­is­ter Joe Phaahla and re­marked that “some serve in Cab­i­net un­der his pre­rog­a­tive”.

A close as­so­ciate of the Gup­tas also said Zuma hit out at those who ac­cused him of be­ing cap­tured, say­ing they were them­selves cap­tured by other in­ter­ests.

He also raised the is­sue of a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture, say­ing that he had no ob­jec­tion to the pro­posal and in fact wanted the probe to be broad­ened. The pro­posal re­ceived over­whelm­ing sup­port in the meet­ing.

NEC mem­ber Philly Ma­pu­lane de­clined to com­ment on in­for­ma­tion that he ac­cused Zuma of cam­paign­ing for his ex-wife and for­mer African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana DlaminiZuma to suc­ceed him as ANC pres­i­dent.

Ma­pu­lane, ac­cord­ing to those who at­tended, said Zuma’s con­duct was in breach of the NEC de­ci­sion ear­lier this year that no one should cam­paign un­til the suc­ces­sion de­bate was for­mally opened.

He cited as ex­am­ples a ra­dio in­ter­view that Zuma did in Jan­uary as well as his com­ments last month dur­ing a church ser­vice at Dlamini-Zuma’s birth­place in Bul­wer in the KwaZulu-Natal Mid­lands.

How­ever, Zuma de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing that the event was held in hon­our of Dlamini-Zuma and that he was only giv­ing an ac­count of what he knew about her life as a strug­gle ac­tivist. The meet­ing last weekend agreed to open the suc­ces­sion de­bate.

TALK TO US Do the failed mo­tions against Zuma show the ANC’s or­gan­i­sa­tional strength or its weak­ness?

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