‘HANDS OFF VET­ER­ANS’

Mashatile backs stal­warts in fall­out

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO, BHEKI MBANJWA AND BONGANI HANS

ANC GAUT­ENG chair­per­son Paul Mashatile has taken is­sue with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s scathing at­tack on the party’s vet­er­ans and stal­warts, as the fall­out over the is­sue es­ca­lates.

Mashatile said the ANC could not af­ford to un­der­mine the role its vet­er­ans and stal­warts were play­ing in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, say­ing the party’s lead­er­ship should make over­tures towards the stal­warts in or­der to bridge the di­vide.

“My view is that the lead­er­ship of the ANC must con­tinue to en­gage with the vet­er­ans. I don’t think we should tire, I don’t think we should fight in the pub­lic space and in news­pa­pers,” Mashatile said, speak­ing to The Star on the side­lines of the party’s pol­icy con­fer­ence in Nas­rec, Soweto.

“I think, be­yond this con­fer­ence, the pres­i­dent and the NEC (na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee) must call the vet­er­ans and meet with them and find so­lu­tions – we need them.”

Mashatile was re­act­ing to the pres­i­dent’s open­ing ad­dress at the con­fer­ence on Fri­day, where Zuma de­parted briefly from his pre­pared speech to launch a scathing at­tack on the stal­warts, ac­cus­ing them of think­ing they were “big­ger than the branches of the ANC”, in­clud­ing the na­tional lead­er­ship.

“They see us (na­tional lead­ers) purely as ad­min­is­tra­tors,” Zuma charged.

ANC vet­eran An­drew Mlan­geni – one of the last two sur­viv­ing Rivo­nia Trial ac­cused – who is also a Zuma critic, left the stage im­me­di­ately af­ter the pres­i­dent’s cas­ti­ga­tion.

The mat­ter, which has high­lighted the rifts among se­nior ANC lead­ers, ap­pears to be among the is­sues over­shad­ow­ing the pol­icy con­fer­ence.

On Satur­day, Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu also crit­i­cised Zuma for his at­tacks on the vet­er­ans.

Yes­ter­day, the stal­warts and vet­er­ans re­buked Zuma for his “shame­ful” com­ments against them, ac­cus­ing him of abus­ing the con­fer­ence to at­tack them.

“The stal­warts and vet­er­ans are to­tally per­plexed by the bizarre and dis­hon­est state­ments by the pres­i­dent that we are ‘so-called lead­ers’ and that we are ac­cused of hav­ing stated with re­spect to branches, ‘they said they don’t think the qual­ity of dis­cus­sions here is at their level. They need se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion. These are the peo­ple who claim they have val­ues and un­der­stand­ing of the ANC’,” the vet­er­ans stated.

“We to­tally re­ject these as­ser­tions by the pres­i­dent and be­lieve he knows that what they told the del­e­gates to the con­fer­ence, and through the me­dia, the South African pub­lic at large, about the stal­warts and vet­er­ans is patently un­true. He will not be able to pro­duce a shred of ev­i­dence to sup­port the shame­ful state­ments,” they said.

The vet­er­ans and stal­warts have called on Zuma to re­sign, while the ANC in Gaut­eng also said the pres­i­dent “should do the right thing”, a state­ment in­ter­preted as the prov­ince’s call on him to step down.

But yes­ter­day Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula said Zuma was go­ing nowhere and warned MPs that they would be ex­pelled if they voted with the op­po­si­tion in the Au­gust 8 mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence.

ANC MPs should vote, not ac­cord­ing to their con­science, but in line with the de­ci­sions of the party, Mbalula said.

Liken­ing ANC MPs who plan on vot­ing against Zuma to sui­cide bombers, Mbalula said the party would in­sti­tute dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against MPs who defy the party.

“A sui­cide bomber is some­body who dies for an ide­ol­ogy; whether it is right or wrong, they die for it...”

He cau­tioned that the re­moval of a sit­ting pres­i­dent had, in the past, proved to be a costly mis­take on the part of the ANC.

The re­call of for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki in 2008 had not only led to the for­ma­tion of Cope, but it had led to an ex­o­dus of ex­pe­ri­enced lead­ers and thinkers.

Despite there be­ing grow­ing calls for the re­moval of Zuma from even within ANC ranks, Mbalula said pin­ning all prob­lems fac­ing the party on Zuma was not cor­rect.

He said Zuma would stay on as party leader un­til De­cem­ber, when the ANC is ex­pected to elect new lead­er­ship.

Mbalula said the losses suf­fered by the ANC in the Tsh­wane, Jo­han­nes­burg and Nel­son Man­dela Bay met­ros had not only “fright­ened” the ANC but had made it think hard.

He said the party was aware it had to be on its toes, oth­er­wise it would lose power to the “lib­er­als and dem­a­gogues”.

“It is not gonna be easy in 2019, but we will rise and we will de­fend power,” said Mbalula.

This was while Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa con­firmed that there were at­tempts to block ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe’s ex­plo­sive di­ag­nos­tic re­port into the cri­sis plagu­ing the party.

Man­tashe’s re­port was seen as a vic­tory for sup­port­ers of Ramaphosa, af­ter it crit­i­cised the in­flu­ence Zuma’s friends the Gup­tas have on state af­fairs.

“The di­ag­no­sis doc­u­ment was ap­proved by the NEC. Ini­tially, some of the del­e­gates said ‘no, maybe it should not be pre­sented’. Fi­nally, it was agreed that is should be pre­sented.

“It should also form the ba­sis to en­rich the dis­cus­sions that are go­ing to en­sue.

“That doc­u­ment es­sen­tially looks at the ANC quite crit­i­cally,” Ramaphosa said.

“As you know, the ANC is a liv­ing or­gan­ism. It would go through ups and downs, and that doc­u­ment recog­nises that and, in a very hon­est way, looks at quite a num­ber of is­sues that are chal­lenges to the ANC,” he added.

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma is go­ing nowhere and any ANC mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who votes for his re­moval may face ex­pul­sion from the party.

This is the hard stance be­ing adopted by the ANC as Zuma will – on Au­gust 8 – face yet an­other test in Par­lia­ment when MPs vote in a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in him.

Speaker Baleka Mbete is re­ceiv­ing sub­mis­sions from var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties ei­ther for or against the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence be­ing de­cided through a se­cret bal­lot.

ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber and Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula said re­mov­ing Zuma would be self-de­struc­tive for the ANC.

Zuma’s re­moval had been de­bated in the party’s NEC and de­feated, Mbalula said, adding that MPs were ex­pected to up­hold this de­ci­sion.

ANC MPs should vote not ac­cord­ing to their con­science, but in line with the de­ci­sions of the party, he added.

Liken­ing ANC MPs who plan on vot­ing against Zuma to sui­cide bombers, Mbalula said the party would in­sti­tute dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against MPs who de­fied the party.

“A sui­cide bomber is some­body who dies for an ide­ol­ogy whether it is right or wrong, they die for it… You de­cide that to­day is the day I am gone.”

He cau­tioned that the re­moval of a sit­ting pres­i­dent had in the past proved to be a costly mis­take on the part of the ANC.

The re­call of for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki in 2008 had not only led to the for­ma­tion of Cope, but had led to an an ex­o­dus of ex­pe­ri­enced lead­ers and thinkers.

Mbalula added that at the time, Zuma and ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe were among the few NEC mem­bers who were op­posed to Mbeki’s re­moval.

“Gwede had to be the bearer of bad news and Mbeki said ‘fine, I will leave’. I was in the bush (un­der­go­ing ini­ti­a­tion) and I was shocked.

“When (for­mer Gaut­eng pre­mier Mb­haz­ima) Shilowa left I was shocked, be­cause he is not a min­now, he can think.”

He said op­po­si­tion par­ties like the DA who were call­ing for the re­moval of Zuma were do­ing so for po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane had failed to re­move He­len Zille, Mbalula noted.

Despite there be­ing grow­ing calls for the re­moval of Zuma from even within ANC ranks, Mbalula said pin­ning all prob­lems fac­ing the party on Zuma was not cor­rect.

He said the ANC’s own re­search had listed a num­ber of fac­tors which contributed to the party’s poor show­ing in the 2016 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

These in­clude the Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s de­ci­sion against Zuma, the cabi­net reshuf­fle, the spy tapes judg­ment and the chal­lenges fac­ing SA Air­ways and the SABC.

Mbalula said Zuma would stay on as the party leader un­til De­cem­ber, when the ANC is ex­pected to elect its new lead­er­ship.

Mbalula pointed out that the losses suf­fered by the ANC in the Tsh­wane, Joburg and Nel­son Man­dela Bay met­ros had not only “fright­ened” the ANC, but had made it think hard.

He said the party was aware that it had to be on its toes, oth­er­wise it would lose power to the “lib­er­als and dem­a­gogues”.

“It is not go­ing be easy in 2019, but we will rise, we will de­fend power,” said Mbalula.

While the in­flu­ence of the Gup­tas is also un­der the spotlight, Mbalula said that while he was not de­fend­ing them, the mem­bers of the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily did not con­sti­tute a monopoly.

PIC­TURE: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

TIME OUT: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, left, and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC’s na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence.

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