President Jacob Zuma’s supporters will try to quash attempts to discuss his fate at the meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee that starts tonight.
Although those opposing his leadership have become more emboldened, given the scandals engulfing his presidency, his supporters have again regrouped to stop discussion of his removal from office.
ANC Mpumalanga secretary Mandla Ndlovu, whose province has backed Zuma, said the issue of Zuma remaining president had long been resolved – but his province was ready for any eventuality.
“There was an extended [meeting of the ANC’s] national working committee that dealt with that matter. I reported back to the branches about this matter and the branches accepted [the decision of the committee]. We will deal with anything that comes up but branches here [in Mpumalanga] won’t tolerate any shenanigans,” said Ndlovu.
Mpumalanga’s sentiments were echoed by North West ANC secretary Dakota Legoete, who said attempts to debate Zuma’s future would not be allowed.
That matter was discussed last November and there was an agreement on it. There is a decision of the national executive committee that the president should remain in his position. So we don’t foresee any problems.
“That matter was discussed last November and there was an agreement on it. There is a decision of the national executive committee that the president should remain in his position. So we don’t foresee any problems.”
If there is an insistence that Zuma’s future be put up for discussion – especially in light of his late-night cabinet reshuffle in March, which was denounced by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer Zweli Mkhize – it will probably come from the party in the Western Cape.
That province’s secretary, Faiez Jacobs, said yesterday: “It is not our style to comment before an NEC meeting but there are a lot of issues since we [the NEC] met that have happened in our country, some very important recent events, but we will put our position after the meeting.”
Those calling for Zuma’s head have used the consequences of the cabinet reshuffle, the growing public distrust of the ANC and the perceived growing impunity of the Gupta family as grounds for reopening the debate.
A known anti-Zuma leader, Zamani Saul, newly elected chairman of the ANC in Northern Cape, said discussion of Zuma’s future might be stopped because a conclusion had already been reached.
“It won’t be allowed to be brought up,” he said.
The meeting of the national executive committee has been convened to discuss campaigning for the party’s December elective conference. Some NEC members have accused Zuma of violating a decision that there should be no campaigning until after the policy conference next month. This month Zuma endorsed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor, in violation of the ANC position.
As a result those supporting Ramaphosa for the presidency are expected to argue that selective application of the rule should not be allowed and that campaigning for the leadership of the ANC should therefore be permitted now.
Although the NEC is expected to be divided on open campaigning, there is an expectation that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s return to lead the power utility will also result in division.
Luthuli House has labelled the situation “irrational and untenable” and Zuma has appointed an interministerial team, led by Justice Minister Michael Masutha, to deal with it.