‘Zuma is SA’s worst president since democracy’
ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa has warned that the upcoming vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma had the potential to endanger the lives of some members of Parliament who are suspected to be preparing to vote against party wishes.
In a wide-ranging interview with City Press on Friday in East London, Phosa said there were already ANC corpses due to the power struggles and political killings in areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and, more recently, the Eastern Cape.
He said the political killing fields of ANC members were rapidly expanding beyond KwaZulu-Natal and engulfing other provinces. He said people were killed in some provinces before elections or often when they occupied leadership positions. He also attributed the killings to the fight for tenders and state resources.
Phosa was in the province to attend the funeral of councillor Thozama Njobe, the speaker of Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality in Fort Beaufort, yesterday. Njobe was gunned down in what is believed to be a political hit.
He warned that the lack of tolerance of opposing views and the scramble for wealth through tenders by members of Africa’s oldest liberation movement seemed to have become a curse.
Although National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has not decided whether it would be an open or secret ballot, Phosa described the process as a moment of truth for MPs who believed they were “leaders”.
“The secret ballot is a universal right in advanced democracies to protect you. It means you talk to your own conscience. When party members become members of Parliament, they take an oath towards the Constitution of the country, not their parties. I believe the national call should supersede because it is a moment of decision.
“If you don’t allow a secret vote, you are exposing those members of Parliament who vote against the president and [targeting them] to be killed. The threats are there already. What else do you want to happen? It’s not like we are inventing the threats – they are there,” Phosa insisted.
“The death of comrade Thozama indicates that the killings are not ending there in KwaZulu-Natal. The killing fields are expanding. In North West, [Wandile Bozwana] was killed. For what? So these four provinces have become the killing fields of South Africa; where different views are not tolerated. If you say you won’t be corrupted and refuse to sign off on unauthorised expenditure, they kill you,” he said.
As an example, he spoke about ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, who has reported that she has been subjected to ongoing telephonic threats. She has publicly expressed her concerns over the state of the ANC, and said she did not understand why members of Parliament were being threatened with serious action should they vote against the president.
Turning his attention to Zuma, Phosa said the Nkandla scandal was the point when he realised that Zuma was not good for the country. Phosa has joined other leaders, including SA Communist Part general secretary Blade Nzimande, who have boldly acknowledged their error of judgment in supporting Zuma in the past. Phosa said Zuma was the worst president the country has had since the dawn of democracy, and the country had been given a wake-up call to not sink this low again.
“I am judging him in terms of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. The issue of Zuma is taxing on the members of the ANC. It is expensive to the ANC. It is expensive to South Africa. That’s why some members of the national executive committee have raised the question on whether he must go. Actually, some of us have taken a stance that he must go. It is unequivocal that he must go.
“The country has been downgraded to ‘junk’ status. Our economy is not growing and unemployment is high. We will soon face a reaction from the masses if we don’t take action as ANC leadership,” Phosa said.
He said it was not surprising that those who defended Zuma kept popping up in relation to the cache of emails known as the Gupta Leaks because they had the same interests as Zuma.
“Some of them think they will never be ministers if he goes away. And I think they are right. No one will make them ministers. So they have to defend that which made them ministers at all costs.
“How do you explain that the Constitutional Court says the man broke his oath of office – that he did not protect the Constitution – and then the national executive committee of the ANC says we must take collective responsibility? You would have to bury me in my grave, I will never do that,” he swore.
Phosa also lamented the fact that law enforcement agencies in the country had been rendered useless, with the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority silenced or crippled and unable to act against the Guptas and other individuals, despite the overwhelming evidence linking them through the leaked emails. This promoted a situation where there were no consequences for wrongdoing in the country, he said.
Phosa said both a judicial commission of enquiry and parliamentary enquiry were needed to get to the truth. The president was not helping the situation by arguing that he should appoint a judge to head a commission of enquiry into state capture, something he has been accused of being involved in. Phosa added that Zuma’s move was delaying the process so that, by the time the commission finished its job, the president would be “sitting in Nkandla out of his office, or in Dubai”.
On the integrity of party branches and their ability to make independent decisions, he said branches needed to be cleaned out because they had been corrupted. He blamed what he called gatekeeping within the movement, arguing that it was killing the party.
He recalled that, at one stage, it took more than a year to renew his own membership card in his Mpumalanga branch. He was forced to visit Luthuli House, where he was eventually issued with an authentic card.
FORTHRIGHT Matthews Phosa