JZ sets off a new cracker

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma may be on a col­li­sion course with the ANC’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus af­ter pub­licly speak­ing out about at­tempts to drive a wedge be­tween his ex­ec­u­tive and the gov­ern­ing party’s cau­cus.

De­liv­er­ing his open­ing ad­dress at the on­go­ing ANC pol­icy con­fer­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg, Zuma spoke of the “pol­i­tics of spec­ta­cle, grand­stand­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tion in Par­lia­ment” and warned that the ANC should be wary of them.

“We have to ask our­selves whether we have honed the skills to man­age this and the grow­ing at­tempt to draw a wedge be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and the par­lia­men­tary cau­cus of the gov­ern­ing party,” he added.

“An­other form of re­sis­tance takes the form of tra­di­tional lob­by­ing where vested in­ter­ests seek to de­rail transformational poli­cies through dif­fer­ent forms of per­sua­sion,” said Zuma.

City Press spoke to three ANC MPs; two of whom in­ter­preted Zuma’s words as a re­buke to the cau­cus which has been ro­bust and tough on the ex­ec­u­tive in re­cent months.

One MP wished the pres­i­dent had elab­o­rated on the mat­ter, say­ing it was now un­clear whether he had a prob­lem with the ro­bust ANC in Par­lia­ment or whether he was speak­ing about the op­po­si­tion par­ties.

An ANC MP, who is also a mem­ber of the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC), said there was a view in the ex­ec­u­tive (state) that, in hold­ing peo­ple to ac­count, the cau­cus goes beyond what it is sup­posed to do.

“He [Zuma] men­tioned once in an NEC meet­ing ... and was a bit harsh in that meet­ing be­cause he said ‘we are play­ing an op­po­si­tion­ist role’,” said the MP. “There are also min­is­ters that are com­plain­ing about be­ing held to ac­count, but the cau­cus can’t be a lap­dog,” added the MP who did not want to be named.

The MP added that some mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive did not like the par­lia­men­tary inquiry into the SABC and were not happy about the Eskom inquiry ei­ther. The lat­ter is sched­uled to start when Par­lia­ment re­con­venes next month.

It is also pos­si­ble, how­ever, that Zuma was talk­ing about the op­po­si­tion par­ties who have openly ad­mit­ted to lob­by­ing ANC MPs in their many at­tempts to re­move Zuma from of­fice.

The DA, United Demo­cratic Move­ment and Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers MPs have pre­vi­ously said their fight for a se­cret vote in the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against Zuma was to pro­tect ANC MPs who were will­ing to vote out their pres­i­dent but were scared to do so in an open vote.

Fol­low­ing their ridicu­lous de­fence of the Nkandla saga, where they went as far as ab­solv­ing Zuma of any wrong­do­ing; ANC MPs ap­pear to have found their voices as Cabi­net min­is­ters, party de­ploy­ees to de­part­ments and oth­ers face gru­elling ques­tions when they ap­pear be­fore par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees.

How­ever, much of the ro­bust­ness ap­pears to in­ter­sect with ANC fac­tional wars in the build-up to the party’s na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

Only this week, Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane was put in her place by ANC MP Lulu John­son when she sought to dic­tate how the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee over­see­ing her depart­ment should hold them to ac­count. Twice, a firm but calm John­son re­minded her that she ac­counts to Par­lia­ment and not the other way round.

Mokonyane was lead­ing her team to ac­count for the fourth quar­terly re­port of the depart­ment when she said: “I want to has­ten and say in your cor­re­spon­dence, you have also in­di­cated al­most 23 ad­di­tional items that have got noth­ing to do with the fourth quar­terly re­port, but I want to re­mind MPs, all those items are re­flected in the an­nual per­for­mance plan and are sub­ject to an au­dit process ...”

John­son re­sponded: “You shall re­mem­ber min­is­ter that mem­bers (MPs) raise any is­sue as and when they want to raise it. Whether I have men­tioned it to you or not; in one way or an­other you should ex­pect mem­bers to raise any is­sue.

“We are op­er­at­ing in that en­vi­ron­ment.” Mokonyane, re­port­edly a Zuma sup­porter, con­tin­ued with her protes­ta­tions, but John­son, who has pre­vi­ously been re­ported to have called for Zuma to step down, was not moved.

TALK TO US The ques­tions mount: Can we ex­pect more clashes be­tween Zuma’s ex­ec­u­tive and the par­lia­men­tary ANC? Is Zuma fight­ing the op­po­si­tion for his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival? Is he de­lib­er­ately ob­fus­cat­ing is­sues?

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PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

ON THEIR BEST BE­HAV­IOUR Strug­gle stal­wart Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela joins hands with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, in a show of unity at the open­ing of the party’s Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence on Fri­day

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