Calls to remove Zuma ‘aimed at dislodging ANC’
JOHANNESBURG — Calls for President Jacob Zuma to go are about dislodging the party from power, the ANC said yesterday.
“In the case of the opposition the message is clearer: it is to dislodge the ANC from power. They themselves say that it is not about president Zuma, but about the ANC,” secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
Zuma survived a second call — within six months — for him to step down. It was made during the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend.
Sources who attended the NEC meeting said as many as 70 people spoke for and against the motion, which policy guru Joel Netshitenzhe tabled.
Several people, including cabinet ministers, supported the motion. AntiZuma NEC members said they believed the motion would have been successful had it been put to a vote.
“They are afraid of a secret vote. If they had said vote, he [Zuma] wouldn’t have survived,” an ANC NEC member said.
Zuma supporters, however, claimed it was easier to “crush” the motion this time.
Mantashe merely said a number of NEC members believed the party should listen to public calls for Zuma to go.
“Various contributions in support of and against the appeal to the president to step down were raised. Many more were neither in favour of nor against the appeal, but emphasised the need for unity within the organisation,” Mantashe said.
Zuma is due to face another motion of no confidence in Parliament soon. The Economic Freedom Fighters approached the Constitutional Court to try and have him impeached.
The date for the motion will be set after the court rules on whether the vote should be done via secret ballot, following an application by United Democratic Movement, supported by other opposition parties.
Mantashe said ANC members were expected to toe the party line. They had been warned that voting with the opposition would amount to misconduct.
He said according to the party constitution, misconduct is defined as acting on behalf or in collaboration with counterrevolutionary forces.
He sidestepped questions on whether calls within the ANC for Zuma to go were regarded in the same light. The party stalwarts who had been calling for the ANC to hold a consultative conference had urged the ANC caucus to put forward their own motion for Zuma to step down.
“We are not accusing veterans of collaborating with those forces, but the outcome can converge on those consequences,” he said.
In June, the party would meet its alliance partners and the South African Council of Churches (SACC) following the release of its damning report into state capture, and which implicated Zuma in wrongdoing.
“The NEC discussed at length the need to reconnect with sectors of society that are drifting away from the movement. This is particularly important for those have been traditional allies of the broad liberation movement, including some traditional leaders and sections of the faithbased community led by, amongst others, the SACC,” Mantashe said.
He refused to comment on Zuma’s threats, which he made in his closing address to the NEC.
Zuma warned members to “not push him too far” by criticising him in public.