Sunday Times

‘We had to back Zuma’

- By ZIMASA MATIWANE South Africa News · Politics · Jacob Zuma · African National Congress · Iceland · Austria · Cyril Ramaphosa · Belarus · Maine · Ace Magashule · David Dabede Mabuza

● The out­go­ing sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC Youth League, Njab­ulo Nzuza, says the body has no re­grets about its loyal sup­port for for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In an in­ter­view this week, Nzuza, who is due to step down later this year at the league’s na­tional congress, said league lead­ers were ready to de­fend Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in the same way they did Zuma be­cause the aim of those at­tack­ing ANC pres­i­dents is to dam­age the party.

Nzuza claimed their stub­born sup­port of Zuma, which in part saw the ANCYL lose in­flu­ence, was in­formed by a de­cline of the ANC at the polls. “The pres­i­dent was be­ing at­tacked, it was a di­rect at­tack on the ANC, ours was to safe­guard the ANC, that is why we went all out to de­fend the pres­i­dent — we will also de­fend Cyril.

“The in­ten­tion was to iso­late pres­i­dent Zuma but the ul­ti­mate prize was to dam­age the ANC. It’s not Zuma who sits on the bal­lot, it’s the ANC,” Nzuza said.

“We could not af­ford to add to in­creas­ing voices that were crit­i­cis­ing the ANC in pub­lic. That would not have been good for the ANC be­cause we would have been throw­ing stones at a glass house that was al­ready frag­ile,” Nzuza added.

The out­go­ing lead­er­ship un­der Nzuza and league pres­i­dent Collen Maine has for years been crit­i­cised for be­ing be­holden to Zuma, fail­ing to call him out for the de­cline in ANC sup­port. But Nzuza said they adopted a strat­egy of quiet diplo­macy be­cause they wanted to in­flu­ence the party from within.

Nzuza, how­ever, con­ceded that per­cep­tions that the league’s lead­ers had been in­stalled by the premier league — an ANC lobby group con­trolled by fig­ures such as for­mer pre­miers Ace Ma­gashule, Supra Mahumapelo and David Mabuza — had harmed their cred­i­bil­ity.

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