President Jacob Zuma’s supporters should focus on life after Mangaung as his victory at the ANC national conference had been “sealed”, Cosatu president, Sdumo Dlamini, boldly claimed in Durban on Sunday.
“It is obvious that Zuma will win at Mangaung. This victory is now sealed. But some people are already plotting to make his life a living hell after Mangaung. And if you lower your guard, those people will be ahead of you.”
Dlamini said Cosatu had taken a decision to support Zuma as president, Kgalema Motlanthe as deputy president and Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general.
He admitted that Cosatu leaders had been asked to engage Motlanthe so that he should not contest against Zuma, but said “that matter may have to resolve itself politically”.
Addressing the provincial shop stewards’ council, Dlamini said members of the ANC and Cosatu should be “combat-ready” so as to defend Zuma and Cosatu unions after Mangaung.
“We are faced with a serious problem where we are under attack from all quarters… We understand that the battle ahead will be tough. The ANC needs to be on its toes.”
Dlamini said the attack on Cosatu affiliates such as the NUM was part of a bigger plot by some organisations and individuals who wanted to destroy the ANC.
“They realise that the ANC keeps on winning the elections, but they want to take over, so now they are trying to destroy the ANC by destroying Cosatu first.”
Dlamini applauded the ANC members who blocked DA leader Helen Zille’s visit to Nkandla.
Taking a swipe at Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA parliamentary leader, he said: “We thought we had a problem in Malema, but other people have bigger problems when you have people who are so disrespectful. We were taught that you don’t look an older person in the eye.”
In Parliament last week, Mazibuko had grilled Zuma about the upgrades to his Nkandla residence.
He said some organisations like the Friends of the Youth League had exploited some genuine demands by the workers for their own gains.
Themba Mthembu, the provincial secretary of the SA Communist Party, agreed, saying there was an “anti-majoritarian offensive” being waged by parties like the DA against the ANC-led government.
“This hate campaign seeks to undermine the majority rule and the privileges that should be reaped by the majority party.”
Mthembu claimed that the recent attempt to pass a vote of no confidence against Zuma in Parliament was proof that opposition parties were taking sides in the factional battles in the ANC.
“They are supporting a certain faction of the ANC and they want to boost this faction ahead of Mangaung.”
Mthembu also slammed those who had criticised the SACP’s proposal that there should be a law to protect a sitting president from being insulted.
“Similar laws exist in other countries. Even in Britain, where most of these people who have become critics come from, there is such a law”.
Also speaking at the same gathering, Senzo Mkhize, a member of the provincial executive committee of the ANC, was also confident Zuma would win at Mangaung, saying that he would be the one delivering the January 8 statement next year. “We will come back from Mangaung with a Zuma moment.”
He also called on members to defend Zuma, saying opposition parties were now “undermining” Zuma because such behaviour had started from within.
Mkhize was at pains to explain that the province was not backing Zuma because he was a Zulu. He said there had been many achievements under the Zuma-led ANC and government and that these included improving relations with alliance partners and providing clear leadership on the issue of HIV/Aids.
He said that while Motlanthe was a good leader, he was too quiet on many issues including the Marikana massacre. He hinted that the province could still give him support for the position of deputy president, adding: “It’s all up to him.”
Many of the ANC structures in KZN have dropped Motlanthe as deputy president in favour of businessman Cyril Ramaphosa.
At the weekend, the eThekwini region also nominated Ramaphosa with regional chairman, Sibongiseni Dhlo-mo, saying the ANC was spoilt for choice as it had many capable leaders who could fill the post. Dhlomo said, however, the region would be willing to be “influenced” on its list of preferred candidates. This is an indication that the pro-Zuma supporters can still back Motlanthe for re-election as deputy president, only if he does not contest the position of president.
The region also nominated Zweli Mkhize for the position of treasurer-general, Gwede Mantashe for secretary-general, Jessie Duarte for deputy secretary-general and Baleka Mbete for national chairwoman.
Meanwhile, the provincial nominations conference of the ANC Youth League could not decide on its preferred leaders at a meeting on Saturday after a quorum could not be reached.