Zuma back­ers want him gone by Jan­uary

Dlamini-Zuma camp talks about ouster to bol­ster 2019 chances

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By QAANITAH HUNTER and NATHI OLIFANT

Sup­port­ers of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are dis­cussing the swift re­moval of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma from the Union Build­ings should she be elected ANC pres­i­dent — to im­prove the party’s chances in the 2019 elec­tion.

In­sid­ers said in­for­mal dis­cus­sions about Zuma’s early exit had been held within Dlamini-Zuma’s camp as there was a re­al­i­sa­tion that it would be dif­fi­cult for the party to win a gen­eral elec­tion with Zuma as head of state.

This is part of a broader strat­egy among her back­ers to dis­as­so­ci­ate Dlamini-Zuma from her for­mer hus­band in or­der to win over those who are dis­il­lu­sioned with him.

It is also an at­tempt to un­der­cut the cam­paign of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, whose back­ers have made it clear that Zuma would be re­called soon af­ter this De­cem­ber’s party elec­tions, should his deputy win.

In­sid­ers close to the premier league, a lobby group cam­paign­ing for Dlamini-Zuma, said the pos­si­bil­ity of re­mov­ing Zuma in an “am­i­ca­ble way” was on the cards if their fac­tion won.

“There is that talk but we have to be care­ful. We have to man­age this care­fully. Look, we can’t lose the elec­tion. We will do ev­ery­thing to win elec­tions but that man still has a lot of power . . . so we have to be cau­tious,” said a Dlamini-Zuma lob­by­ist.

This week, North West premier and ANC pro­vin­cial chair­man Supra Mahumapelo hinted at such talks at a cadres’ as­sem­bly in Klerks­dorp — in the pres­ence of DlaminiZuma.

Mahumapelo said he sup­ported a res­o­lu­tion of the ANC Women’s League that Dlamini-Zuma should be the first woman pres­i­dent of the party, and its af­fir­ma­tion of the prin­ci­ple that “the pres­i­dent of the ANC should be­come the pres­i­dent of the coun­try”.

“Stop in­sist­ing that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma must step down. He is left with three months. Ninety-some­thing days. Let him fin­ish his term and bid him farewell,” Mahumapelo said.

Mahumapelo’s al­lies said his speech was re­fer­ring to plans to re­move Zuma and “send him home to rest” af­ter the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence, which were be­ing dis­cussed in the Dlamini-Zuma camp.

Mil­i­tary vet­er­ans “should march in or­der to thank Zuma . . .‘You did a good job. What can we do for you?’ So that we must look at the fu­ture. Jointly as the ANC and the peo­ple of South Africa,” Mahumapelo said.

He said those who were call­ing for Zuma to be re­moved now needed to be pa­tient.

“They don’t want him to com­plete three­and-a-half months . . . we say to those com­rades, come back from those ac­tiv­i­ties of yours. Join us in cel­e­brat­ing farewell. ‘Farewell, Baba, farewell.’

“Af­ter lunch on De­cem­ber 18 there would be a new pres­i­dent and that pres­i­dent will be a woman and that woman will be Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,” the North West premier told the crowd.

Other lead­ers known to be sup­port­ers of Dlamini-Zuma did not want to com­ment on the mat­ter. ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair­man Sihle Zikalala said he would not dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly.

“If there’s a need for those dis­cus­sions, we will en­ter­tain those is­sues in­ter­nally,” said Zikalala.

Dlamini-Zuma was on the cam­paign trail this week in North West and KwaZulu-Natal.

Speak­ing to her sup­port­ers at the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg city hall on Fri­day, Dlamini-Zuma ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity of agree­ing to an ar­ranged lead­er­ship out­come to avoid a bruis­ing bat­tle.

“Some say con­tes­ta­tion will kill the or­gan­i­sa­tion but democ­racy is the na­ture of the ANC and con­tes­ta­tion hap­pens ev­ery­where in the branches. It hap­pens in the branches, it hap­pens in the re­gions and it hap­pens in the prov­inces,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

This comes as dif­fer­ent prov­inces have met in the past week to lobby each other to find com­mon ground ahead of the party’s De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Dlamini-Zuma said the tra­di­tion of the ANC stated that who­ever won, re­ceived the sup­port of the party mem­bers.

“The same tra­di­tion says those who did not suc­ceed, there’s no dust­bin to throw them in. You will re­mem­ber that when go­ing to the con­fer­ences, it’s about the num­bers. Just let the branches choose,” she said.

“The ANC has to win the elec­tions in 2019 re­gard­less of who­ever wins [in De­cem­ber]. All I say is that the win­ner will be ANC. We can­not make the ANC fail, if the ANC fails it will be us,” she said.

She said the los­ing can­di­date should not con­sider leav­ing the party: “If you want to lead, be pre­pared to be led also.”

Pic­ture: Phill Magakoe

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ar­rives at a cam­paign stop at Alexan­dra Sta­dium in Jo­han­nes­burg.

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