Ex­posed: Zuma plot to oust Cyril

ANC rocked by se­cret meet­ings in­volv­ing sec­re­tary-gen­eral

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By QAANITAH HUNTER and JEFF WICKS

● Top ANC fig­ures, in­clud­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, are plot­ting in se­cret to un­seat Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Sun­day Times can re­veal ex­clu­sively to­day that Zuma held a clan­des­tine meet­ing with staunch back­ers in­clud­ing ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ace Ma­gashule, for­mer North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC Women’s League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Meokgo Matuba and ANC Youth League KwaZulu-Natal sec­re­tary Than­dux­olo Sa­belo, at the Ma­ha­rani ho­tel in Dur­ban on Thurs­day.

The Thurs­day meet­ing was pre­ceded by one the day be­fore at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel in Umh­langa Rocks. That meet­ing is be­lieved to have been at­tended by Ma­gashule, Mahumapelo and for­mer SAA board chair Dudu Myeni. Zuma did not at­tend the Bev­erly Hills gath­er­ing.

So se­cret was the Ma­ha­rani meet­ing that those who were present de­nied hav­ing met Zuma, even though the Sun­day Times is in pos­ses­sion of pic­tures of them to­gether in­side the ho­tel, and out­side when they left.

The meet­ing is be­lieved to have dis­cussed a fight­back strat­egy that in­volves court ac­tion to chal­lenge the out­come of last year’s ANC na­tional con­fer­ence, which elected Ramaphosa party pres­i­dent.

The group want to chal­lenge the Nas­rec con­fer­ence on the ba­sis of mass ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at branch meet­ings and the claim that a large num­ber of del­e­gates were il­le­git­i­mate.

This comes as Ramaphosa’s net closes around those who were part of the rot dur­ing the Zuma years, with more rev­e­la­tions emerg­ing at the state cap­ture com­mis­sion.

It is be­lieved that the group have cho­sen the le­gal route af­ter re­al­is­ing that they have been po­lit­i­cally weak­ened, es­pe­cially with the dis­band­ing of the Mahumapelo pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (PEC) in the North West.

With­out po­lit­i­cal strength, they will not be able to push for an early na­tional gen­eral coun­cil to re­move Ramaphosa.

What par­tic­u­larly wor­ries the big­wigs at Luthuli House is Ma­gashule’s pres­ence. As sec­re­tary-gen­eral, he is in charge of the dayto-day run­ning of the ANC — while ap­par­ently also be­ing at the cen­tre of plans to un­der­mine the party’s pres­i­dent.

The meet­ing was con­vened af­ter 10am on the sec­ond floor of the four-star beach-fac­ing ho­tel on Dur­ban’s North Beach. Zuma came armed with a thick dossier.

The Ma­ha­rani is known in ANC cir­cles as Zuma’s pre­ferred venue for hold­ing un­of­fi­cial meet­ings, even dur­ing his pres­i­dency.

Wit­nesses de­tailed how Zuma first held in­tense talks with Ma­gashule and Mahumapelo be­fore hav­ing dis­cus­sions with the rest of the group.

The first salvo from the group was a let­ter sent to Ma­gashule on Wed­nes­day from re­gional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees in the North West, chal­leng­ing the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) de­ci­sion to dis­band the Mahumapelo-led PEC.

Sev­eral top ANC lead­ers con­firmed that they were aware that Zuma’s back­ers had held meet­ings to hatch a fight­back plan.

ANC na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber and for­mer KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu said he had been made aware of both meet­ings. He de­clined to com­ment fur­ther and re­ferred all ques­tions to Ma­gashule.

Other se­nior ANC lead­ers, who asked not to be named, said party of­fi­cials have long sus­pected Ma­gashule’s in­volve­ment in plans to dis­lodge Ramaphosa but never had proof to con­front him with.

Ac­cord­ing to Luthuli House sources, Ma­gashule’s di­ary in­di­cated that he was sup­posed to be in Bloem­fontein on Thurs­day. It

If [it was a se­cret meet­ing] then it’s a prob­lem, be­cause the of­fice of the sec­re­tary­gen­eral is sup­posed to be re­spected

Enoch Godong­wana

ANC NEC mem­ber

men­tioned no ANC en­gage­ment in Dur­ban.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair­per­son Sihle Zikalala said there was no for­mal meet­ing sched­uled for Thurs­day with Ma­gashule or Zuma.

“I don’t know of any meet­ing this week,” he said. He did not even know Ma­gashule was in the prov­ince on Thurs­day, he said.

When our re­porter ap­proached Ma­gashule for a com­ment, he de­nied they had been meet­ing with Zuma.

Sev­eral at­tempts to reach him later were un­suc­cess­ful.

ANC NEC mem­ber Enoch Godong­wana said he was not aware of the meet­ing, and it would be wor­ry­ing if Ma­gashule par­tic­i­pated in se­cret gath­er­ings. “I don’t know about the meet­ing. I don’t know about its pur­pose. Maybe they were meet­ing for a birth­day party … but if [it was a se­cret meet­ing] then it’s a prob­lem be­cause the of­fice of the sec­re­tary­gen­eral is sup­posed to be re­spected. It’s sup­posed to unite us. If it be­comes in­volved [in such meet­ings] then it’s wor­ry­ing.”

Sa­belo, who was con­fronted out­side the ho­tel af­ter the meet­ing, said:“I was driv­ing in the beach­front and I saw the SG [Ma­gashule] out­side of the ho­tel so I stopped to greet him. That’s all. I had no meet­ing with the for­mer pres­i­dent or with the SG. There was no meet­ing with the for­mer pres­i­dent.”

Sa­belo is a fron­trun­ner in the race to suc­ceed youth league pres­i­dent Collen Maine.

Mahumapelo did not com­ment when asked about the meet­ing. Matuba de­nied hav­ing any meet­ing with Zuma, say­ing she

did not see him in Dur­ban.

“I was in Dur­ban. But it was the day be­fore yes­ter­day [Wed­nes­day]. I slept over at the Ma­ha­rani. I did not see the for­mer pres­i­dent. I just bumped into the SG but I was there for a meet­ing of the women’s league,” she said.

How­ever, in the pic­ture above, Matuba is seen talk­ing with Zuma, Mahumapelo and Ma­gashule. She was seen out­side the ho­tel, sub­se­quent to the meet­ing on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, wear­ing the same pink T-shirt, grey jacket and jeans she was seen wear­ing in her meet­ing with Zuma.

Zuma’s spokesper­son, Vuk­ile Matha­bela, did not re­spond to writ­ten ques­tions.

Re­spond­ing to de­tailed ques­tions about the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel meet­ing, Myeni said: “No com­ment.”

ANC lead­ers with knowl­edge of the fight­back move­ment be­lieve the group are be­ing funded by “ten­der­preneurs who ben­e­fited un­der Zuma”.

Mahumapelo and others who at­tended the meet­ing got into two Mercedes-Ben­zes with Gaut­eng regis­tra­tion plates. One of the ve­hi­cles be­longs to Myeni’s son, Tha­lente, who de­clined to com­ment.

The sec­ond car is reg­is­tered to a com­pany owned by the son of a well-known Dur­ban busi­ness­man.

A top ANC leader said the meet­ing made it clear that Zuma’s fight­back plan would start in the North West.

“We have been told about this se­ri­ous fight­back … the one way they are con­sid­er­ing is the al­ter­na­tive po­lit­i­cal party that was formed. Then there is a fight to go to court and take that route. But the real pur­pose is to dis­rupt the mo­men­tum we are get­ting be­fore elec­tions,” the leader said.

An­other party in­sider said Zuma was the ring­leader of the group.

“Zuma has a grudge … be­cause of his re­moval. That is why he is al­ways in the pub­lic eye. He’s not cam­paign­ing for the ANC but against the ANC. He’s cam­paign­ing to the ex­tent of not sleep­ing. He at­tends ev­ery func­tion, funeral and church ser­vice — to make sure he’s in the pub­lic eye,” said the leader.

In the let­ter sent to Ma­gashule on Wed­nes­day, Mabuza At­tor­neys, act­ing on be­half of the North West re­gions, states that the NEC de­ci­sion to dis­band the North West PEC on Au­gust 31 was “un­law­ful for fail­ing to com­ply with the con­sti­tu­tion of the ANC”.

The let­ter says the NEC de­ci­sion was “un­der­pinned by sev­eral ma­te­rial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties”, in­clud­ing that the branches and re­gional com­mit­tees were not con­sulted.

For­mer North West deputy chair China Dodovu said it was not pos­si­ble to re­verse the out­come of the Nas­rec con­fer­ence or the de­ci­sion to dis­band that prov­ince’s PEC.

He said Mahumapelo was us­ing the same dis­crep­an­cies he had raised in the run-up to the Nas­rec con­fer­ence as the ba­sis for his chal­lenge to the out­come.

“He was in the lead­er­ship when these is­sues arose,” said Dodovu. He said a process had now been un­der­taken by the ANC to ad­dress the prob­lems in the North West.

“The re­moval of Supra gives the ANC a chance now to re­tain con­trol of the prov­ince in next year’s elec­tions,” he said. — Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Si­bon­gakonke Shoba and Ranjeni Munusamy

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ace Ma­gashule, for­mer North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and ANC Women’s League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Meokgo Matuba at the Ma­ha­rani ho­tel in Dur­ban on Thurs­day.

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