ANC weighs up letting Zuma go
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Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has admitted that the party’s leadership may be facing “a watershed” moment after the damning Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla.
He also revealed how debates among senior leaders on the current issues “go to the extreme and (have) become polemical”. This comes after the meeting of the ANC’s extended national working committee, which was attended by 80 national executive committee members to discuss President Jacob Zuma’s fate after the ConCourt ruling that he failed to uphold and respect the constitution.
On Sunday, Mantashe insisted that the party would not “succumb” to the opposition's call for Zuma to fall because “we can't follow the programme of the opposition forces. It's unheard of that ANC MPs would vote for that impeachment (of Zuma in Parliament last week), it will not happen. The ANC must process these things and take its own decisions,” he said, speaking at the 23rd commemoration of the killing of former SACP general secretary Chris Hani in Boksburg on Sunday.
“The most important thing about that is how we take this process forward, without being seen to be succumbing to the pressure of opposition forces. Nobody takes advice from his own enemy.
“Advice from the enemy is poisonous. But it doesn't absolve us from looking into our own behaviour.”
Mantashe warned ANC members about speaking out “negatively” in public that they were “inflicting wounds on ourselves and we are going to bleed”.
Mantashe said the ANC had gone through difficult periods over its 104 years of existence, from past presidents Sefako Makgatho and Pixley ka Isaka Seme to Albert Xuma.
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While he said the ANC would humble itself before the people and its structures that wanted to influence and persuade the party on the current crisis, Mantashe warned the children of former exiled leaders, called Masupatsela, all older than 14 years, against using their faction as a title.
“There are no Masupatsela that are over 14 years, so we must show them the ANCYL (ANC Youth League). They must go to the branches of the ANC and be members to influence it from there,” Mantashe said.
He also brought into sharp focus the extent of divisions in the party's leadership meetings convened to tackle the recent controversies surrounding Zuma's administration recently.
He admitted that many people believed Hani would be disappointed at the state of the ANC today. “My own view is different - that Chris (Hani) would be at the heart of the battle to save the movement from both the offensive form of opposition forces and the bleeding from our own goals that are very costly to the ANC. He would be fighting factionalism that pushes us to the extremes.
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“You find people that say Zuma must go and others saying we are protecting Zuma. Both extremes are wrong. There is no duty in the ANC to protect and defend only Zuma. Ours is to ensure that Zuma takes refuge in the organisation because in the course of defending the ANC, he is also defended.”
The ANC was weighing the consequences of letting Zuma go, he said. The question of corporate capture posed a real threat to the national democratic revolution, Mantashe said, adding that when people lose trust and confidence in the party, anything it does creates a lot of “noise”.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande recalled how Hani had strongly criticised ANC leadership in 1969, which led to a “watershed” conference in Tanzania, which allowed the ANC to renew itself in the 1970s. “Neither the Ruperts nor the Guptas are the solution,” he said.