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