The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has come out strongly against the actions of former president Jacob Zuma, describing his announcement that he will vote for a new party as tantamount to “resigning” from the governing party.
The ANC and its alliance partners held a joint briefing on Monday which had been preceded by a meeting that was said to have been robust.
The ANC suffered a massive setback this past weekend when Zuma announced that he will not be voting for or campaigning for the ANC and will vote for a new party called uMkhonto weSizwe.
The ANC, which for the first time since it came to power is facing a real challenge to its dominance and state control, had hoped that Zuma would campaign for it in the next general election.
Political analysts have said Zuma’s move could prove dangerous for the ANC as it could give disgruntled supporters who have been wanting to vote for another party the confidence to finally move away from the ANC with their votes.
Political observers have said Zuma is still popular in KZN and other parts of the country and as such he could pose a real threat to the ANC’s ability to retain its majority after next year’s elections.
Addressing the media, provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo said that Zuma’s announcement was essentially divorcing the ANC.
“It is for the first time in 111 years of the ANC’s existence that a former president and an outstanding leader of the movement publicly announced his decision to vote for another political party and effectively campaign for that party, (something) which we view as literally divorcing the ANC and leaving the ANC for another political formation.
“It is also no exaggeration to state that this is a form of gross ill discipline,” said Mtolo.
He said while they noted Zuma’s assertions (that the ANC has lost its way), the party will remain focused and will continue to tell the public that the ANC is still the party that they have trusted since 1994.
Mtolo said based on the numerous by-elections that the party has won in recent times, it was clear to the public, who are the true assessors of the progress made by the ANC, that it remains the hope and protector of their future.
Mtolo said during the meeting the alliance partners had said there must be a difference between Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe and the real Umkhonto we Sizwe, adding that the former is meant to lure loyal ANC voters by using the well-known name of the party.
Pressed by journalists on whether he was calling for Zuma’s expulsion, Mtolo said no, but made an example of a divorce between a husband and wife to illustrate his point.
“Remember, when you are married and your wife says I still love you but I am (leaving you) for another man, there is no need for divorce, (he) has already divorced you. He has already chosen his path.”
ANC leader Sipho Hlomuka said while the loss of any member was concerning, the party was not concerned about its election prospects following Zuma’s decision. He said the party continued to get new members joining from other political parties.
In a statement, the Umkhonto we Sizwe Liberation War Veterans took exception to Zuma’s conduct. The organisation described Zuma’s actions as disingenuous, saying choosing December 16 to launch his diatribe was aimed at creating confusion.
“December 16 marked the 62nd anniversary of the formation of the people’s army, uMkhonto we Sizwe, popularly known as MK, whose glorious history heralded the dawn of the new South Africa.
“The timing was deliberately chosen to mislead and create confusion that what he said was under the auspices of Umkhonto we Sizwe.
“The MKLWV would like to take this opportunity to put the record straight and to reassure the public at large and all former combatants of MK that Umkhonto we Sizwe is the military wing of the ANC which was established when the ANC decided to embark on armed Struggle against the apartheid regime.
“MKLWV would like to make it very clear that the so called uMkhonto weSizwe Party is not MK of OR Tambo.
It is not the MK of Chris Hani.
“It does not, by any stretch of the imagination, represent the disciplined and dedicated cadres of the authentic Umkhonto we Sizwe,” said the statement.