Durban - Branches of the ANC across KwaZulu-Natal have expressed anger at what they say is the failure of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to give them a satisfactory explanation on why former president Jacob Zuma was recalled from office.
On Sunday angry ANC branch leaders from the party’s biggest region - eThekwini - grilled NEC member Zweli Mkhize over the recall.
The chairpersons and secretaries of branches had gathered at Moses Mabhida Stadium to get an explanation for Zuma’s removal last week.
The meeting started before noon and continued until late in the evening.
NEC members have been deployed across the province to brief the branches on why Zuma was recalled and forced to resign.
At Musa Dladla region, the second-biggest region in the province and Zuma’s home region, branch leaders also demanded answers from NEC member Mondli Gungubele.
“Branches are not getting a satisfactory explanation as the NEC is not telling them what wrong Zuma did to justify his removal.
“I can tell you that branches in all regions were not happy with the explanation. People are saying the removal of the president was a continuation of factionalism emanating from Nasrec,” said an ANC Youth League provincial leader.
Some branch leaders who attended the gathering told The Mercury that the representatives of the branches were “seriously unhappy” with Zuma’s forced resignation.
“As a matter of principle we support comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s president, but our question to Mkhize as the representative of the NEC is: Bekujahwephi ngokususwa kuka Msholozi? (What was the rush for removing Zuma?)” said a branch leader.
Another branch secretary said people had told Mkhize that although it was clear the NEC decision could not be reversed, they called for action to be taken against certain NEC members who had spoken publicly about Zuma’s removal even before the decision was taken.
“The issue of talking about the matter in public should have been left with Ace (Magashule) as the SG (secretary-general). Paul Mashatile (treasurer-general), Gwede Mantashe (national chairperson) and Bheki Cele should be disciplined for going public and talking ill about Zuma.
“Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general) was within her rights to say what she said because she falls with the secretariat,” said another leader.
Mkhize, the former treasurer of the ruling party, confirmed that there was anger among members who felt Zuma’s recall had divided the party.
“The members here are really expressing themselves in terms of how we have gone about the decision.
“They felt the issues should have been discussed with the structures long before they were out in the media,” said Mkhize.
He said branch leaders should accept that Ramaphosa was the country’s leader.
Mkhize said the aim of the consultative meetings was to allow branches to express their views on the issue of Zuma’s recall.
“These are very strong members of the ANC who have very strong feelings about the party,” he said.
The NEC would continue to engage with Zuma in order to manage the situation within the ANC, Mkhize said.
The ANC’s eThekwini regional secretary, Bheki Ntuli, said branches said the office of secretary-general Ace Magashule should control who was addressing the media.
“The secretary-general’s office must have a clear line of who communicates with the media, and those who are attacking each other should not be allowed to. ANC leaders should not be allowed to speak ill of others, and the NEC should ensure that leaders are speaking well of the ANC and its leaders,” said Ntuli.
NEC member Bheki Cele was dispatched to the Eastern Cape’s Amathole - one the biggest regions in the province - which has been leading the Zuma-aligned faction in the province. The region backed Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma when she unsuccessfully challenged Ramaphosa for the party’s presidency in December.
Amathole regional chairperson Khanyile Maneli said that while the region had backed Zuma, they now welcomed the decision to remove him.
NEC member Fikile Mbalula was sent to another region that had been hostile to Ramaphosa, the Buffalo City Metro, whose branches also welcomed the decision.
ANC Eastern Cape secretary Lulama Ngcukayithobi said all structures in the province agreed that Zuma’s removal and Ramaphosa’s takeover would bring back hope.