Zuma’s fight­back: NDZ for cabinet

Cor­nered Zuma said to be un­der sway of ex-con­vict pair as he plots next move

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA, QAANITAH HUNTER, THABO MOKONE and JAN-JAN JOUBERT

They mas­ter­minded the Ramaphosa ‘in­fi­delity’ e-mails A se­nior gov­ern­ment source

A ma­jor cabinet shake-up seems im­mi­nent as de­tails emerge of the in­flu­ence of con­tro­ver­sial fig­ures over President Ja­cob Zuma.

The an­nounce­ment that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be sworn in as a mem­ber of par­lia­ment has revived talk — which started soon af­ter the failed no-con­fi­dence vote — that Zuma plans to make changes to his cabinet.

In­sid­ers say there is an ex­pec­ta­tion that Zuma may ap­point Dlamini-Zuma to the po­si­tion of min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion as re­la­tions with the in­cum­bent, Blade Nz­i­mande, were at an all-time low.

It is be­lieved the plan is for Dlamini-Zuma to be the one to an­nounce free ed­u­ca­tion at ter­tiary level, to win over vot­ers. Zuma is sit­ting on the He­her com­mis­sion re­port on free ed­u­ca­tion that was fi­nalised last month.

The Sun­day Times can re­veal that Zuma had been con­sid­er­ing ap­point­ing Leanne Wil­liams, a for­mer coun­cil­lor of the Pa­tri­otic Al­liance in the City of Jo­han­nes­burg, to a deputy min­is­ter po­si­tion.

In­flu­ence

In­sid­ers said the fact that Wil­liams’s name landed on Zuma’s desk proved the grow­ing in­flu­ence ex-con­victs Gay­ton McKen­zie and Kenny Kunene have over Zuma. McKen­zie is the leader of the Pa­tri­otic Al­liance.

But the move was met with great re­sis­tance from within the ANC.

Wil­liams re­cently re­signed from the board of state-owned en­tity PetroSA, where she was an in­terim mem­ber.

The loom­ing reshuffle is seen as part of a big fight­back plan by Zuma, who is in a tight cor­ner, fac­ing a Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­ci­sion on his im­peach­ment and moves to kick­start a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture.

Se­nior ANC lead­ers this week said the in­flu­ence McKen­zie and Kunene have over Zuma was be­ing spo­ken about in hushed tones in the party be­cause the two were feared.

Se­nior gov­ern­ment sources said the two were the mas­ter­minds be­hind the e-mails pub­lished in last week’s Sun­day In­de­pen­dent that pur­ported to show mar­i­tal in­fi­delity on the part of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Sun­day Times un­der­stands that so in­volved were the two in the leaked e-mails that a meet­ing between Ramaphosa aides and Sun­day In­de­pen­dent editor Steve Mo­tale took place at Kunene’s business premises.

Min­is­ters and se­nior of­fi­cials of sta­te­owned com­pa­nies al­leged that the two have been us­ing their in­flu­ence to seek favours.

“We know that Gay­ton has been hav­ing meet­ings with some of the min­is­ters, but peo­ple are afraid to talk about it be­cause they are be­ing black­mailed,” said a cabinet min­is­ter this week.

An ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber, who asked not to be named, said the two were “now the new Gup­tas”.

“They have ac­cess to the big house [Mahlamba Nd­lopfu].”

A num­ber of se­nior ANC lead­ers and cabinet min­is­ters said it was an open se­cret that the two were work­ing closely with Zuma.

“Gay­ton has been going to Rus­sia in re­cent months, ei­ther to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on cer­tain peo­ple or to get some in­tel­li­gence train­ing. It is be­lieved that him and Kenny do the dirty work for uBaba. Some min­is­ters have been warned not to of­fend the two or they would be in trouble. When Gay­ton phones you, some of us are not sure if he is speak­ing on be­half of uBaba or him­self.”

McKen­zie said he had no re­la­tion­ship with Zuma. “As for as­sis­tance to the president, I doubt that he would even re­quire such as­sis­tance,” he said.

McKen­zie said he met cabinet min­is­ters reg­u­larly. “Min­is­ters and politi­cians fre­quent all my restau­rants. I see min­is­ters reg­u­larly. I know them and they know me. I was born into the ANC, so the ANC is not a stranger to me. Many came to me re­cently to try to con­vince me not to go with the DA in Nel­son Man­dela Bay,” he said.

Trips to Rus­sia

Asked about trips to Rus­sia, he said: “I travel ex­ten­sively and have been to about 15 coun­tries in the past two years. Most of this travel is for business, tourism or just for shop­ping. Last time I checked, there’s no law against travel or going to Rus­sia in par­tic­u­lar.”

Kunene had not re­sponded to ques­tions at the time of going to press.

Wil­liams said she was not aware of any plans to ap­point her to the ex­ec­u­tive. “I ab­so­lutely have no idea. How is that even pos­si­ble if you’re not an ANC mem­ber? This is news to me. I am not aware of it.”

She said she was pre­oc­cu­pied with her business. She said McKen­zie and Kunene were “peo­ple I know”.

Zuma’s spokesman, Bon­gani Ngqu­lunga,

It wouldn’t be wrong to de­ploy her to . . . cabinet Kebby Maphat­soe MK Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion president

said: “The de­ci­sion to make changes to the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive is the pre­rog­a­tive of the president. The Pres­i­dency does not com­ment on me­dia spec­u­la­tions about cabinet or na­tional ex­ec­u­tive reshuf­fles.”

As for talk of Dlamini-Zuma’s pos­si­ble re­turn to cabinet, one of her back­ers, ANC North West pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Dakota Le­goete, said that as “Mrs Fixit”, Dlamini-Zuma would con­trib­ute to any role she was ap­pointed to in the leg­isla­tive or ex­ec­u­tive arms of gov­ern­ment. “What­ever min­istry she touches turns to a clean au­dit.”

ANC Women’s League president Batha­bile Dlamini said that if Dlamini-Zuma were a man peo­ple would not ques­tion her de­ploy­ment to par­lia­ment. “Peo­ple know her track record,” she said. Asked if the league wanted Dlamini-Zuma ap­pointed to the cabinet, Dlamini said that was up to the president — but stressed that the for­mer min­is­ter had “per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally” in her pre­vi­ous port­fo­lios.

“When she left the coun­try, she was a min­is­ter and she was per­form­ing ex­cep­tion­ally . . . she’s also an as­set of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and there are many chal­lenges that are fac­ing our coun­try and there­fore if you have her as an MP it means we have one strong mem­ber that un­der­stands the ANC, that is ac­count­able to the ANC, that un­der­stands demo­cratic cen­tral­ism,” she said.

Kebby Maphat­soe, president of the Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion — part of the lobby that wants Dlamini-Zuma to suc­ceed Zuma — said “it wouldn’t be wrong” for her to be ap­pointed.

“We’ll ap­pre­ci­ate wher­ever she is de­ployed, we know that she will add value. But we can’t say she’s going to par­lia­ment to be a min­is­ter — that’s the pre­rog­a­tive of the president and the of­fi­cials. But it wouldn’t be wrong to de­ploy her to any po­si­tion in the cabinet,” he said.

A source close to Dlamini-Zuma re­vealed that she only dis­cov­ered through the me­dia that she was be­ing de­ployed to par­lia­ment.

“She will have a dis­cus­sion with the ANC about it,” said the in­sider. Dlamini-Zuma’s spokes­woman re­ferred all ques­tions to Luthuli House.

SACP act­ing spokesman Mh­lekwa Nx­u­malo said the party would not be sur­prised if Nz­i­mande was re­moved. “We are aware of calls from some el­e­ments within the ANC that are tar­get­ing com­mu­nists. We are ready for it,” said Nx­u­malo.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe de­fended the party’s de­ci­sion to de­ploy Dlamini-Zuma.

He said the Elec­toral Act al­lowed par­ties to amend their list once ev­ery year.

In other de­vel­op­ments, there is grow­ing sus­pi­cion that Zuma may want to stay as party leader, af­ter he told the ANC top six two weeks ago that he was “the only one who can unify the ANC”.

While Zuma’s sup­port­ers in­sist that they would never al­low such a move, his de­trac­tors are prepar­ing for the worst.

“He can’t trust any­one. When he en­dorsed NDZ he was un­der the im­pres­sion that she will pro­tect him. Now he is para­noid. He will stand. He is even telling peo­ple he will,” a se­nior source in the Ramaphosa cam­paign said this week.

A mem­ber of the NEC said they were not rul­ing out that pos­si­bil­ity. “I think ev­ery­one knows the NDZ cam­paign is flat and so we are pre­pared for that even­tu­al­ity,” he said.

The cam­paign source said a third-term bid by Zuma would only help Ramaphosa’s pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions.

Last Wed­nes­day, lob­by­ists from Ramaphosa’s cam­paign met with Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu’s cam­paign to ne­go­ti­ate hav­ing her as Ramaphosa’s deputy on their slate.

ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu, a staunch Ramaphosa sup­porter, con­firmed that a de­ci­sion had been taken to have Sisulu stand as Ramaphosa’s deputy.

“Last week in a na­tional meet­ing we agreed that Cyril will be No 1 and No 2 will be com­rade Lindiwe Sisulu.

“The sec­re­tary-gen­eral will be Com­rade Senzo [for­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal premier Senzo Mchunu], deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral will be Com­rade Febe Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule, trea­surer-gen­eral will be [ANC Gaut­eng chair­man] Com­rade Paul Mashatile, lastly chair­per­son will be Com­rade Gwede Man­tashe,” said Mthembu.

Pic­ture: Moeketsi Moti­coe

A na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber called Gay­ton McKen­zie and Kenny Kunene ’the new Gup­tas’.

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