The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) KwaZulu-Natal says former president Jacob Zuma will remain as its provincial chairperson after it made startling claims that ANC provincial leaders tried to pressure the organisation to charge Zuma and remove him from the position.
Zuma was elected chairperson of the civic organisation in November but on Saturday said he would not campaign for the governing party, nor would he vote for it, saying it was not the ANC he had joined.
“It will be a betrayal to campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa. My conscience will not allow that,” he said at the time.
Zuma said he would instead campaign and vote for a new political formation, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, in next year’s polls.
This sparked an almost immediate response from provincial ANC secretary Bheki Mtolo, who responded to Zuma in a press conference, saying in the party’s history, there had never been a former president and senior leader of the movement who publicly campaigned against the organisation.
“It is also no exaggeration to state that this is a form of gross indiscipline.
We will continue to tell our people that the ANC is still the ANC that they have trusted since 1994.”
On Wednesday, Sanco’s provincial secretary, Sizwe Cele, said the organisation’s constitution allowed members to join regardless of their political affiliation.
“There is no provision in our constitution to oust the provincial chairperson (Zuma), and he can associate how he pleases.”
However, Cele said that Sanco had taken a resolution at its November elective conference to support the ANC at next year’s elections.
“Our belief is that for the country to achieve its ideals, the ANC must lead the South African government. The people of South Africa must vote for the ANC and we do not share the chairperson’s views.
Sanco commits itself to voting ANC.” He said this was not a decision that had been taken without conditions.
“Never again shall we give the ANC a blank cheque as we have done for many years.”
He described Zuma’s endorsement of the MK party while being provincial chairperson of Sanco as a “delicate matter”.
“He has been with the party for 62 years, served time on Robben Island, was in exile for 14 years and has been a National Executive Committee (NEC) member since 1975.
“For 10 years he occupied the highest office of the ANC ... this analysis says to us that he is an ANC person, but he is at loggerheads with the ANC,” Cele said.
He said the NEC of the ANC had not said anything significant on the matter, “so why must Sanco pronounce on this? This matter falls squarely into the ANC domain and not Sanco’s ... In this instance (we) have no constitutional grounds to charge (our) chairman for joining the MK party.”
Stressing Sanco’s prerogative not to sanction Zuma, Cele said ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma and Mtolo tried to intimidate them “to deal with Zuma”.
“These comrades tried to bully us to reject or charge (Zuma) thus undermining Sanco and its constitution. They seemed to personalise a political matter because as Sanco KZN, we are not ‘yes baas’ types that they have been accustomed to.”
Cele accused Mtolo of being arrogant, saying this posed a threat to the party ahead of the 2024 elections.
“Duma and Mtolo behave as if they are still in the (ANC) Youth League, they are shooting from the hip.”
Cele said the civic organisation could not imagine the province run by the “IFP or any other party”.
“The ANC in KZN must answer for anyone who leaves the party ... they are making mobilising for the ANC very difficult,” Cele said.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said they noted Sanco’s comments but would not be responding.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said it was not ideal for the chairperson of the civic body to pull in one direction and the organisation in another.
“This will definitely confuse the electorate because it is not clear who they will support for next year’s elections.
“Sanco is part of the alliance, which means it supports the ANC but their core mandate is to represent residents with the daily challenges they face.”
Khumalo said Sanco cannot force its members to vote for the ANC or not.
“This contradiction has remained in the organisation for a long time, but in the end their decision to not remove Zuma is correct as they are made up of members who belong to different political parties or affiliations.”