Johannesburg - The ANC on Tuesday accused Beeld editor Adriaan Basson of campaigning to get rid of President Jacob Zuma.
“He ignores the emphatically expressed will of 11 million South Africans who renewed the mandate of the ANC, with comrade Jacob Zuma at the helm, to lead the country,” spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
“The article demonstrates an obsession by Basson in waging a determined, desperate and futile campaign to get rid of President Zuma.”
In his column on news24.com, which originally appeared in Beeld titled “How do we get rid of President Jacob Zuma?”, Basson said the country needed a new leader and that Zuma could not stay on as president for much longer.
“We simply can't afford Zuma any longer,” Basson wrote.
“We need a leader with clean hands who can lead with integrity. Someone who can intervene, talk and strategise when a Marikana happens or an African Bank collapses or when gang bullets smash through small children.”
He believed Zuma was not that leader and this was evident in his response to Parliament to reports on the R246 million security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
In response to the ANC on Tuesday, Basson said his column spoke for itself.
“The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which the ANC struggled for, allow me to express these views, however uncomfortable they may be,” he said in an e-mail to Sapa.
“This was not an 'intended call-to-arms' against President Zuma, but the articulation of widely held discussions by people inside and outside of the ANC who are increasingly agitated by President Zuma's failure of leadership.”
Kodwa accused Basson of resorting to “blatant lies” about Zuma regarding Nkandla.
He said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had not used state funds to build his private residence.
“It was only after the involvement of the SAPS (SA Police Service) that costs of a security nature came into the picture.”
“Therefore the ANC unreservedly supports the president in his call for the minister of police to exercise his constitutional duty to determine which of these costs are of a security nature,” Kodwa said.
Basson said Kodwa was disingenuous if he pretended to be unaware of discussions about the different scenarios for Zuma's second term, and he was not the first person to write about it.
“Far from what Mr Kodwa claims, the truth about the Nkandla scandal has not yet fully emerged.
“The media has played a pivotal role in bringing this national disgrace to the fore and we will continue to look under every stone until the many unanswered questions have been dealt with sufficiently,” he said. - Sapa