Zuma itch caus­ing ANC dis­com­fort

Some NEC mem­bers be­lieve a re­bel­lion is be­ing stirred up against Ramaphosa

Mail & Guardian - - News - Paddy Harper & Ma­tuma Let­soalo

Ja­cob Zuma must be “con­vinced” to stop us­ing his court ap­pear­ances to at­tack the ANC — and al­low­ing other par­ties to do so too. This call came from mem­bers of the party’s na­tional executive com­mit­tee, who raised the mat­ter at its re­cent spe­cial NEC meet­ing. They wanted the ANC’s top six to in­ter­vene ur­gently be­fore Zuma’s next court ap­pear­ance on July 27 on charges of cor­rup­tion and fraud.

Anti-ANC rhetoric and calls for an elec­toral chal­lenge to the party marked his two pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances in the high court in Dur­ban.

Among those who raised con­cerns about Zuma’s con­duct and suggested that the top of­fi­cials should talk to him di­rectly were NEC mem­ber Ron­ald Lamola and ANC pres­i­dency head Zizi Kodwa.

One NEC mem­ber said: “There must be a dis­cus­sion on the mat­ter. What’s hap­pen­ing [on the days of] his court ap­pear­ances is not help­ing the ANC at all. At­tack­ing the ANC is not help­ing us and it looks like the for­mer pres­i­dent is en­dors­ing them [the at­tacks].”

This NEC mem­ber, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said the top six had to find ways to “en­gage” Zuma to en­sure that events or­gan­ised for his court ap­pear­ances ben­e­fit the ANC and not op­po­si­tion par­ties in next year’s poll. “What­ever hap­pens … must en­hance the agenda of the ANC, not dam­age the im­age of the party,” the NEC mem­ber said.

An­other NEC mem­ber, who also wanted to re­main anony­mous and who is sym­pa­thetic to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, said the ANC pres­i­dent was wor­ried about Zuma’s con­duct out­side the court and on other pub­lic plat­forms, and be­lieved the for­mer pres­i­dent was try­ing to un­der­mine Ramaphosa’s au­thor­ity.

“It is clear that the pres­i­dent’s au­thor­ity is be­ing ques­tioned. Peo­ple are mo­bil­is­ing a re­bel­lion. They have a strat­egy to deal with us [the ANC lead­er­ship loyal to Ramaphosa], in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally,” he said.

The con­cerns ap­pear to have in­formed this week’s com­ments by ANC elec­tions head Fik­ile Mbalula in a ra­dio in­ter­view that Zuma would be part of the ANC’s cam­paign for next year’s na­tional elec­tions, and Ramaphosa’s sub­se­quent com­ments in an in­ter­view with a French TV chan­nel, in which he said Zuma would never leave the ANC.

Mbalula’s com­ments sug­gest a step back­wards by the ANC lead­er­ship from its ear­lier stance, which at­tempted to place some dis­tance be­tween Zuma and the ANC brand. Zuma, he said, would in­deed be part of the 2019 cam­paign.

Ear­lier this year, the NEC took a de­ci­sion not to sup­port Zuma at his court ap­pear­ances. It said mem­bers could sup­port him in their in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties but that party colours should not be dis­played. This rul­ing has been ig­nored by Zuma’s al­lies, who want the party to back him pub­licly.

Groups such as the Black First Land First (BLF) move­ment have been mo­bil­is­ing openly among Zuma’s sup­port­ers ahead of and at his court ap­pear­ances, us­ing the plat­form to re­cruit ANC mem­bers crit­i­cal of the cur­rent ANC lead­er­ship.

Zuma cam­paigned for the ANC at a re­cent by-elec­tion in his home town of Nkandla (the ward was lost to the Inkatha Free­dom Party) and par­tic­i­pated in the party’s voter regis­tra­tion drive in Fe­bru­ary in its Musa Dladla re­gion, un­der which Nkandla falls.

The move was crit­i­cised by the ANC’s al­liance part­ners, who are ex­pected to use Sun­day’s al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil meet­ing to ques­tion why Zuma has been cam­paign­ing for the ANC in KwaZulu-Na­tal. Be­fore Zuma’s re­call, union fed­er­a­tion Cosatu had in ef­fect banned him from ad­dress­ing its meet­ings, and the South African Com­mu­nist Party’s threat to field its own can­di­dates at next year’s poll was averted by the elec­tion of Ramaphosa as ANC pres­i­dent in De­cem­ber.

The prob­lems fac­ing the ANC are be­ing com­pli­cated by the con­fla­tion by Zuma’s sup­port­ers in KwaZu­luNatal and else­where of his “per­se­cu­tion” with the moves by Par­lia­ment to scrap the In­gonyama Trust.

At Zuma’s court ap­pear­ances, the busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lobby group­ings back­ing him have used the plat­forms pro­vided by the im­promptu ral­lies held out­side to link Zuma’s pros­e­cu­tion — and the ANC de­ci­sion to keep its colours away from the court — with Par­lia­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tion that the trust be scrapped.

Zuma him­self has used the court ap­pear­ances to push back at the ANC lead­er­ship. He has ap­plauded speak­ers crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ing party and has threat­ened to ex­pose his crit­ics in the ANC and the al­liance for cor­rup­tion.

Last week, the BLF and busi­ness lobby groups (in­clud­ing the Rad­i­cal Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion Cham­pi­ons) that back Zuma threat­ened that KwaZulu-Na­tal would break away from South Africa should trust land be touched. Both the BLF and the rad­i­cal cham­pi­ons are at the fore­front of the shows of sup­port for Zuma at his court ap­pear­ances and else­where.

The BLF had ear­lier used the hear­ings on land re­form leg­is­la­tion in Ulundi and Port Shep­stone to show its sup­port for the trust, King Good­will Zwelithini, and rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion — the Zuma camp’s cam­paign ticket in last year’s ANC elec­tive race.

On Tues­day, Carl Niehaus, spokesper­son of the Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion, and Rad­i­cal Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion Cham­pi­ons lead­ers ad­dressed the im­bizo called by the king in de­fence of the trust, which gives him con­trol over nearly three mil­lion hectares of land in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

Niehaus aligned his or­gan­i­sa­tion — and the ANC — with the monarch and the trust, say­ing that the ANC was not com­pelled to ac­cept rec­om­men­da­tions by for­mer pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe’s high-level panel on ac­cel­er­at­ing trans­for­ma­tion. The panel was es­tab­lished by Par­lia­ment.

This has in­creased the pres­sure on the ANC to back­track on its dump­ing of Zuma and its direc­tive that sup­port­ers should not at­tend his court ap­pear­ances in party re­galia.

The stance by the ANC in KwaZulu-Na­tal — and the provin­cial gov­ern­ment — in sup­port of Zuma and the In­gonyama Trust raises an ad­di­tional headache for Ramaphosa. Both have been pro­vid­ing Zuma with plat­forms from which to mo­bilise sup­port and un­der­mine the na­tional lead­er­ship.

On Mon­day, Zuma has been in­vited to ad­dress a lec­ture in hon­our of the Congress of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers of South Africa founder Inkosi Mh­labun­z­ima Maphumulo, courtesy of the KwaZulu-Na­tal de­part­ment of trans­port. ANC re­gions in the prov­ince have pro­vided other plat­forms for Zuma to use, and next week he will ad­dress a se­ries of ral­lies with re­li­gious lead­ers, among them ANC mem­ber of the KwaZulu-Na­tal provin­cial leg­is­la­ture Bishop Vusi Dube.

“At­tack­ing the

ANC is not help­ing us and it looks like the for­mer pres­i­dent is en­dors­ing the at­tacks”

Our man: Ex-pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s fans wore ANC colours out­side court de­spite the party dis­tanc­ing it­self from him.

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