Zuma in the firing line as ANC big shots gather
PRESSURE is mounting on President Jacob Zuma to step down as head of state before the ANC’s top brass meet on Wednesday, with Cosatu and the SACP turning up the heat.
Behind the scenes lobbying for tabling a motion of no confidence in Zuma continued among Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters. This came as Cosatu yesterday reiterated its call that Zuma should step down as the ANC could not afford to have two centres of power.
But some of Zuma’s staunch backers vowed they would block attempts to oust him. The ANC Youth League said it would lobby for Zuma’s defence should there be a move to remove him at the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
The new NEC will meet for the first time after last month’s national elective conference, which saw Zuma succeeded by Ramaphosa. ANCYL national spokesman Mlondi Mkhize said recalling Zuma would harm the ruling party. “There should be no reason why the president should go. The ANC should draw lessons from what happened when former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled,” Mkhize said.
“If you look at the new NEC you can see that it is fairly balanced, and that will help should this matter arise at the meeting,” he said.
ANCYL president Collen Maine, who was also elected into the NEC, refused to comment.
An NEC member known to support Zuma said the issue of two centres of power and Zuma’s fate had to be openly but sensitively dealt with. “We all know now that this is the elephant in the room. We need to address it.
“We must, however, ensure that we do not repeat our mistakes with our eyes opened. We need to discuss it and explore ways in which we can resolve this problem without bruising the organisation,” he said. Several NEC members closer to Ramaphosa have indicated that they were waiting for the matter to make its way onto the agenda of the NEC meeting to discuss it
They included deputy agriculture minister Bheki Cele and former ANCYL deputy president Ronald Lamola, who have both been calling for Zuma’s recall.
Lamola said Zuma’s fate had to be discussed and decided by the new NEC.
The ANC Women’s League could not say if it still stood by Zuma.
“We are waiting for the agenda. (It) has not been circulated yet, so we don’t want to talk about something that is not there,” ANCWL’s Toko Xasa said.
Xasa said the ANCWL would soon be meeting after the ANC’s 106th anniversary celebrations set for Saturday in East London to reflect on their position on Zuma.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande slammed Zuma for appealing the recent ruling by the North Gauteng High Court on state capture which set aside the president’s review application of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela report.
The court also ruled that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng chooses the judge to head up the commission. Zuma has maintained that he is the only one empowered by the Constitution to select who leads the inquiry.
“You can’t appoint a commission to investigate yourself. It is a very clear principle,” Nzimande said. Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the first ANC NEC meeting should examine the implementation of the judicial inquiry into the state capture. He again called on Zuma to resign.
“There can’t be two centres of power. There must be one president. President Zuma must step down.”
Yesterday ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe said there were leaders in government who were appointing their own people into state-owned enterprises and departments in a rush before Ramaphosa becomes head of state.
“It is a reality, where people want to appoint directors general in a rush; want to appoint directors of SOE in a rush so that before Cyril takes responsibility, they have put their own people.
“It is a corrupt activity that kind of appointment, because all you are doing, you are electing a president in Nasrec and you are putting up brackets around him,” he added.