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Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has re­fused to step down af­ter the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion asked him to do so, say­ing his res­ig­na­tion would al­low West­ern gov­ern­ments to cap­ture the party and be­tray the rev­o­lu­tion. This de­fence is out­lined in a re­port, writ­ten by the com­mis­sion and ad­dressed to sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, fol­low­ing meet­ings be­tween Zuma and the com­mis­sion, which took place in December and April.

The six-page re­port is signed by ANC stal­wart and Rivo­nia Tri­al­ist An­drew Mlan­geni, in his ca­pac­ity as the com­mis­sion’s chair­per­son.

It is dated May 21 2017, a week be­fore the last sit­ting of the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) took place, in which Zuma sur­vived yet an­other at­tempt to have him re­moved through a pro­posal to ta­ble a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in him. This was the sec­ond such at­tempt in the space of seven months.

Fol­low­ing calls to the in­tegrity com­mis­sion for Zuma to be brought to book, the pres­i­dent met with its mem­bers and, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, is said to have re­fused to re­sign. “The pres­i­dent stated em­phat­i­cally that he would not re­sign. He be­lieved that to do so would be a be­trayal of our peo­ple and of our rev­o­lu­tion,” the re­port reads. “When he was head of the ANC’s in­tel­li­gence de­part­ment, he had been ad­vised of plots to get rid of him. Re­cently, he had been made aware of sim­i­lar plots and threats to his se­cu­rity. Much of the de­tail that the pres­i­dent gave the com­mis­sion was in con­fi­dence. “The essence of the pres­i­dent’s re­fusal to re­sign is his be­lief that there ex­ists a con­spir­acy by West­ern gov­ern­ments to oust him as pres­i­dent of the ANC and of the coun­try. Their ob­jec­tive is to re­place him in or­der to cap­ture the ANC.” The in­tegrity com­mis­sion re­jected this ex­pla­na­tion, say­ing it made light of the cri­sis in the gov­ern­ing party. “The in­tegrity com­mis­sion does not agree with the pres­i­dent’s ex­pla­na­tion. It does not ac­cept the no­tion that op­po­si­tion to the pres­i­dent can be at­trib­uted solely to a West­ern con­spir­acy. This ex­pla­na­tion ig­nores the very real prob­lems in the ANC, as ev­i­denced by the rapid de­cline in sup­port for the ANC.”

Com­mis­sion­ers ex­pressed con­cern about the state of the tri­par­tite al­liance, the dis­ar­ray that was rife in state in­sti­tu­tions, ir­re­spon­si­ble com­ments made by the ANC women’s and youth leagues, and the con­duct of some Cab­i­net min­is­ters, which had “been al­lowed to go unchecked”.

The group lamented that all these is­sues had taken place un­der Zuma’s lead­er­ship.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the com­mis­sion­ers ac­knowl­edged the role that Zuma had played in stabilising KwaZu­luNatal in the early 1990s, the pop­u­lar­ity he had en­joyed af­ter be­ing elected and his rep­u­ta­tion for tak­ing ad­vice.

“In the past, it was com­mon prac­tice for vet­er­ans and stal­warts of the ANC to be con­sulted. Sadly, this no longer hap­pens.”

Zuma is re­ported to have ex­pressed the wish that he could have met the com­mis­sion­ers be­fore they be­came in­volved in ini­tia­tives call­ing for him to re­sign.

“He wished that the meet­ing had hap­pened be­fore some com­mis­sion­ers had be­come in­volved in the 101 Vet­er­ans’ and Umkhonto weSizwe Vet­er­ans’ ini­tia­tives. He felt that this called into ques­tion the in­de­pen­dence of the com­mis­sion. He be­lieved that he had been judged pre­ma­turely, with­out having been given the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain his po­si­tion.”

The 101 Vet­er­ans, led by Rev­erend Frank Chikane, in­clude the late Ahmed Kathrada – who had writ­ten to Zuma ask­ing him to step down – and com­mis­sion chair Mlan­geni. Dur­ing his open­ing address at the ANC’s fifth Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence, which was held at Nas­rec and ended this week, Zuma tore into the vet­er­ans – who boy­cotted the con­fer­ence – say­ing their call­ing for him to step down was tak­ing away the rights of branches to pick their leader.

“Ang­i­nazi ukuthi nadalwa kan­jani [I don’t know how you were cre­ated]. Peo­ple take your right. You just keep quiet be­cause you are the only ones who can hire and fire, not so?” Zuma said.

“Se­ni­lalela thina ngoba sesi­hamba kan­cane, si­jik­isamakhanda kan­cane. Se­sithatha iyikhundla zenu may­babo [You lis­ten to those of us who now walk slowly and turn our heads slowly. We take your rights].”

Mlan­geni, who was seated on stage dur­ing the address, was seen walk­ing off in the mid­dle of the pres­i­dent’s on­slaught against the party el­ders.

Zuma also told the com­mis­sion­ers that the cri­sis in the ANC could not be placed squarely on his shoul­ders as he had in­her­ited di­vi­sions in the party, which ex­isted un­der the lead­er­ship of for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

In the cor­re­spon­dence to Man­tashe, Mlan­geni also writes that the com­mis­sion wanted the re­port to be tabled at the next sit­ting of the NEC, which took place five days af­ter the re­port was sub­mit­ted.

City Press un­der­stands that some NEC mem­bers ap­proached Man­tashe about the tabling of the re­port ahead of the NEC sit­ting, to no avail.

But Man­tashe said he did noth­ing un­to­ward: “Re­ports of the in­tegrity com­mis­sion do not go to the NEC, in terms of the na­tional gen­eral coun­cil meet­ing. But peo­ple wanted it for their own pur­poses.

“Be­cause the ques­tion is: Why don’t they ask for the re­port on Sbu [Nde­bele], on Batha­bile [Dlamini], on [Phumelele] Ndamase? There were four re­ports that we had at the time: three proper re­ports and ... this one on the com­mis­sion meet­ing. “There is no quash­ing of any re­port.” Sources close to the mat­ter al­lege that Man­tashe told the com­mis­sion that the re­port was not tabled at the NEC out of pro­tec­tion for the com­mis­sion­ers, who would come un­der se­ri­ous fire. Man­tashe added that, un­like the other three re­ports which made rec­om­men­da­tions, the re­port about the pres­i­dent did not come with any rec­om­men­da­tion for Zuma to step down but of­fered a mere sen­tence in the mid­dle of a con­ver­sa­tion recorded in the re­port. The re­port ends by call­ing for the party to re­dou­ble its ef­forts to re­gain cit­i­zens’ con­fi­dence in the ANC. “The breakdown of the unity of the ANC and the po­ten­tial breakdown of the al­liance is cause for alarm,” say the com­mis­sion­ers. “New and in­no­va­tive ways need to be found to re­build the unity and sol­i­dar­ity of these forces.

“Sim­i­larly, the ANC needs to make sure that a con­scious and con­certed ef­fort is made to re­gain the con­fi­dence and trust of all sec­tions of the peo­ple of South Africa.”

In 2015, the ANC’s na­tional gen­eral coun­cil re­solved to ac­cord more au­thor­ity to the in­tegrity com­mis­sion fol­low­ing its es­tab­lish­ment in 2013.

Dur­ing this week’s pol­icy con­fer­ence, the ANC again re­solved to beef up the pow­ers of the com­mis­sion.

Pro­pos­als were made that the struc­ture be given con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers to deal with mem­bers ac­cused of cor­rup­tion.

Dur­ing a re­port-back on the com­mis­sion for or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal, draft­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber Febe Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule told the me­dia that the pow­ers of the com­mis­sion had to be “strength­ened” and that party mem­bers should be sus­pended, pend­ing the out­comes of dis­ci­plinary pro­cesses, in a bid to curb cor­rup­tion.

Gwede Man­tashe

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