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Blaming Zuma the wrong narrative, says Gwede

14/08/2016. ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe addresses the media about the four day ANC NEC meeting held at St George Hotel in Irene. Picture: Masi Losi

14/08/2016. ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe addresses the media about the four day ANC NEC meeting held at St George Hotel in Irene. Picture: Masi Losi

Published Aug 15, 2016


Johannesburg - Any hopes that Jacob Zuma will step down as ANC leader and state president in the wake of the party's dismal performance in the municipal elections have been quashed.

It emerged on Sunday that Zuma had again emerged unscathed from the ANC’s four-day national executive committee meeting at St George's Hotel in Irene, Tshwane, which was convened so the party could take stock of the elections outcomes.

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Almost predictably, the NEC (national executive committee) announced it had resolved that the ANC’s poor showing in the polls was “a collective” matter and that no blame should be apportioned to any individual leader.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said pointing fingers at Zuma was “a wrong narrative” that was foreign to the ANC culture.

“The NEC unanimously agreed to take collective responsibility for the poor performance of the ANC in the elections and resolved to take immediate and bold actions to address the weaknesses and shortcomings that led to the decline of our electoral support,” he said.

He was emphatic that the issue of Zuma stepping down was not entertained at the NEC meeting.

“What we saw doesn't point fingers. There was no proposal from the floor on the president to step down,” he said.

Although he faced a barrage of questions from the media around Zuma’s questionable leadership- style, Mantashe was unperturbed in his stance that fingers shouldn't only be wagged at Zuma alone.

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“The question is should we blame one person for the performance of the ANC? The debate concluded that all of us in the NEC must take responsibility for the poor performance. That is what came out (of the meeting).”

Mantashe said the NEC’s resolution followed “a vigorous, honest, open and thorough assessment of the local government election outcomes”.

The decision came amid media reports that a frank internal assessment report from the ANC’s national working committee had warned the party’s top leaders to face up to the fact that it is in decline or risk losing power.

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The report has revealed the overwhelming majority of South Africans believe Zuma should step down as ANC president, and as president of the country.

Mantashe appeared unperturbed yesterday as he spelt out the NEC’s stance about collective responsibility.

“We talk of collective leadership all the time. That is the collective discussion of collective leadership. If there are issues that contributed to the decline of the organisation at the time, leadership at the time, all of us are responsible.”

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The NWC (national working committee) dossier also raised concerns around corruption within the ANC-led government, including the scandals that have dogged state-owned enterprises, notably the SABC and SAA, which are having a negative impact on the ANC.

Mantashe sidestepped media questions around alleged corruption, saying that while this was what the party was dealing with, there was a need to distinguish between reality and perception”.

He said while the ANC was disappointed at the loss of a number of key municipalities and failing to retain an outright majority in the metros of Tshwane, Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekurhuleni, the NEC reaffirmed the commitment of the ANC “as the liberation movement and governing party to continue the agenda of transforming South Africa…”

The NEC’s resolution also came as the coalition negotiations were due to reach a crucial stage, with political parties in the hung metros where no party secured an outright victory were to have their first council sittings.

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