JZ is asked about his ‘friends’

Ap­plause and cheers fall silent as loy­al­ist pub­li­cally men­tions the Gup­tas to Zuma – a first for a prom­i­nent pro-Zuma of­fi­cial

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

Agrow­ing push back against the Gupta fam­ily among those in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s camp played out for the first time in pub­lic on Fri­day, as Ekurhu­leni Mayor Mzwandile Masina po­litely asked Zuma to help re­solve the link be­tween his “friends” and the ANC. “We do not mean to choose friends for lead­ers of the ANC, but there is a limit to ev­ery­thing. Peo­ple died in the ANC and for this coun­try. We can­not sur­ren­der the sovereignty of the ANC and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary causes in this par­tic­u­lar process,” he said.

City Press has learnt that the Gup­tas knew about the brew­ing dis­sent in the Zuma camp – which in­cludes Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s op­po­si­tion to a num­ber of Gupta deals, in­clud­ing the Denel-VR Laser Asia joint ven­ture.

Gi­gaba and Masina are close and “of­ten party to­gether”, said a re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber of the ANC in Ekurhu­leni – where Masina also serves as the party’s re­gional chair­per­son.

Gi­gaba had also been ex­pected to fast-track the li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion for the Gupta-linked Habib Bank, but had not done so. Among those said to be “fu­ri­ous” with Gi­gaba’s han­dling of the Habib Bank li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion – said a source close to the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily – was Zuma’s son and Gupta busi­ness as­so­ciate, Duduzane Zuma.

An Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion (MKMVA) in­sider said Masina had warned the body’s top brass in ad­vance that he would di­rectly ad­dress Zuma about the Gupta is­sue dur­ing the wel­com­ing ad­dress at the na­tional con­fer­ence, held at the Birch­wood Ho­tel in Ekurhu­leni.

“We did speak about it and he [Masina] told us that we were un­der at­tack and we must not be seen to be agree­ing on ev­ery­thing,” he said.

The in­sider said Masina was still loyal to Zuma, who was also “not of­fended”.

How­ever, many among the more than 700 MKMVA del­e­gates at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence seemed un­set­tled when Masina, mo­ments af­ter re­ceiv­ing loud cheers for speak­ing in sup­port of Zuma, dropped the bomb­shell and said: “Com­rade Pres­i­dent [Zuma], let’s re­quest the Gup­tas to give the ANC space to con­duct the rev­o­lu­tion.” Af­ter that, there were no cheers or ap­plause. The Zuma-aligned MKMVA elected new lead­ers at the con­fer­ence de­spite be­ing faced with fresh di­vi­sions that saw three of its top five of­fi­cials boy­cotting the event over al­le­ga­tions that it was con­vened “fraud­u­lently”. The dis­si­dents – deputy chair­per­son Teenage Monama, gen­eral sec­re­tary Du­misani Nduli and his deputy, Tshidiso Paka – said that “about 60% of the del­e­gates reg­is­tered ear­lier in the week did not have as­cer­tain­able bona fides as MK mil­i­tary vet­er­ans”. The dis­si­dent group was in favour of a “joint na­tional con­fer­ence” that in­cluded the MK Na­tional Coun­cil, another group of for­mer MK sol­diers who had com­plained about be­ing ex­cluded from the pro­grammes of the MKMVA. How­ever, ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber Lindiwe Zulu and Zuma told del­e­gates that the con­fer­ence had the bless­ing of the ANC. “We did not come here on the ba­sis of any­thing else other than to ful­fil the NEC man­date,” said Zulu. Zuma said mem­bers of the MK na­tional coun­cil had not been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ac­tiv­i­ties of the MKMVA “over a pe­riod” and it was un­for­tu­nate that, de­spite be­ing given a plat­form to con­trib­ute, they chose to snub the con­fer­ence in­stead. “Com­rades were not en­gag­ing to get an agree­ment, but to want to force mat­ters and that con­fuses the in­ten­tion,” he said. The MK Na­tional Coun­cil also said on Tues­day that it was go­ing to boy­cott the planned ex­tended na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence of the ANC in July, where two days had been set aside for a con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to lis­ten to com­plaints from the party’s vet­er­ans and stal­warts re­gard­ing Zuma’s poor lead­er­ship. Yes­ter­day, the stal­warts joined the boy­cott, say­ing that the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence should have been sep­a­rated from the pol­icy con­fer­ence. An in­sider said they in­tended to or­gan­ise their own na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence out­side of the ANC.

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PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

Ekurhu­leni mayor Mzwandile Masina speaks to pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma dur­ing the 5th MKMVA na­tional con­fer­ence at Birch­wood ho­tel, which was held in Boks­burg.

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