Treading into uncertainty
The ANC’s National Executive Committee apparently managed to haul President Jacob Zuma over the coals as well as protect the leader’s reputation at its recent meeting.
There was just sufficient public disdain in Mantashe’s demeanour to both severely admonish the Guptas and also (obliquely) point a finger at anyone deemed close to them (even Zuma).
it was no surprise that President Zuma’s presidency survived the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting recently, as the body is still indebted to the president and largely survives by riding on his coat-tails.
More significantly, the ANC is about to embark on its most competitive local government election ever and it desperately needed to present a relatively united front to fire up its somewhat punch-drunk alliance partners and party workers.
But the language and tone used by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe in the post-NEC statement and press conference perhaps told another story. There was enough rhetoric from Mantashe to suggest that the issue of the Guptas and “state capture” had hit a very raw nerve – at least with significant elements of the 100-strong body.
Mantashe remains diplomatic
Although Mantashe’s statements expressed full support for Zuma, they were hardly a ringing endorsement. The commentary was terse and within the context of Mantashe calling into question the role of the Guptas and their proxy media outlets, The New Age and ANN7. In other words, there was just sufficient public disdain in Mantashe’s demeanour to both severely admonish the Guptas and also (obliquely) point a finger at anyone deemed close to them (even Zuma).
One didn’t have to embarrass Zuma in the process – and Mantashe managed successfully to walk the tightrope between providing a veneer of political unity yet clearly indicating his displeasure with the current state of affairs. Mantashe even went as far as to commend deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas on “doing the honourable thing” by coming forward with the revelations about the Gupta involvement in offering ministerial positions.
Wresting power away from Zuma
The NEC outcome therefore indicates that Zuma did not have it all his own way. Remember, the president’s wings had already been clipped in the unedifying Nhlanhla Nene debacle, when Pravin Gordhan was appointed as finance minister in place of his preferred candidate, Des van Rooyen.
There was therefore little indication from Mantashe that the pendulum of power had swung
South African president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma attends the National Executive Committee (NEC) ordinary meeting in Centurion on 18 March.