Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa File picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Durban – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa “blatantly undermined a longstanding tradition” of the ruling party last week when he attended a cadres’ forum in Newcastle and visited the Shembe church in Empangeni, without letting the party’s provincial leadership know he would be doing so, the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal said on Wednesday.

“The deputy president is the second most senior elected leader of the ANC. Whenever he is invited, whether it is a church or a cadres’ forum, irrespective of who has organised that occasion, he has to inform the leadership of the ANC in that province that ‘I am going to be walking into your space because I have been invited by such and such,’” the party’s provincial spokesperson, Mdumiseni Ntuli said.

Ntuli said that the “longstanding tradition” allowed provincial leadership to determine who would be deployed with the deputy president. It applied to all cadres, he said and was “nothing political”.

“The Deputy President was with us on Friday. When the provincial secretary left for Durban, [Ramaphosa] left for a cadres’ forum, which in our view was not a genuine cadres’ forum because you could not exclude an invitation to the PEC and the regional task team of the ANC in eMahleni region and go to an occasion that the ANC structures are not formally told about,” he said.

He said that Ramaphosa was invited by the provincial executive committee (PEC) to campaign in the province, but on his first night of a two-day campaign he “engaged in an activity that did not include the leadership of the ANC”.

“He was not here out of his own volition. He came here on invitation of the PEC and unfortunately he decided that later in the evening he would be diverted to something that was not known by the leadership of the ANC,” said Ntuli.

If Ramaphosa’s behaviour were allowed, it would “grow” in the organisation. An organisation had to function on the basis of traditions and practices, said Ntuli. These could not be abandoned because of the party’s elective conference in December.

“If we allow [that kind of behaviour] to grow in the organisation, because of our reluctance that when we question something that is abnormal it may be seen to be a political witch hunt against the deputy president, then in the near future we are not going to have an organisation,” he said.

Provincial secretary, Super Zuma, said the PEC mandated provincial officials to raise the matter with secretary general Gwede Mantashe for the attention of the national executive committee.

“This tendency is both divisive and introduces a completely new but also dangerous culture,” he said.

Zuma said he campaigned with Ramaphosa the whole day on Friday and Ramaphosa never mentioned that there was another programme he would be attending.

“We are not saying he mustn’t attend programmes, but the structure should be respected and informed. We don’t want to come to a conclusion that this was a factional meeting; we don’t want to reduce our deputy president to that situation,” said Zuma.

Mantashe told ANA that when the matter was raised with his office, it would be dealt with.

“If KZN has an issue, they will raise it through us, not the media,” he said.

A source working closely with Ramaphosa – who asked not to be named – told ANA that there was no need for the deputy president to let anyone know that he was attending church and seeking prayer. 

African News Agency