Johannesburg - As calls grow for President Jacob Zuma to step down, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed any attempts to humiliate Zuma, saying no deployee of the ANC should be subject to such treatment.
Ramaphosa was speaking to the SABC on Sunday, a day after the ANC’s 106th anniversary bash at East London’s Buffalo City Stadium, where sections of the crowd repeatedly booed Zuma.
“We should never have a situation where we subject any of the deployees of the ANC to humiliation. We want our members to desist from booing and insulting and showing disrespect to the leaders of the ANC. Public display of disapproval of anyone through booing is something we want to rid the ANC of,” he told the SABC in an interview.
While noncommittal on whether Zuma will be forced to step down before the end of his term, Ramaphosa said the ANC would deal with the matter and any decision that would be taken would be in the interest of the country and not in the interest of any individual.
The matter is expected to feature at the first ordinary meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee this week. NEC members told Independent Media that they had not yet seen the agenda as the Top Six officials of the party were due to meet this morning to finalise it for the meeting.
Ramaphosa said the issue of having two different people for the president of the ANC and for that of the country was a “delicate” one.
“Some see this as two centres of power but we don’t see it in that way. There is only one centre of power: President Zuma is a deployee of the ANC,” he said.
Ramaphosa continued talking tough on corruption, especially on allegations of state capture, saying the hour for accountability had arrived.
While thanking Zuma for setting up the commission of inquiry into state capture, Ramaphosa said the prosecution of those involved in state capture should happen without delay where there was evidence of wrongdoing.
He said there was no doubt that state capture had happened, adding that money was lost while some money “might be in the process of walking out”.
Zuma supporters have warned that his removal needed to be handled carefully as it could divide the ANC. Zuma still commands a lot of support in provinces like KwaZulu-Natal, but his detractors want to see his back as they believe he is costing the ANC and may prove an even bigger liability if he remains in office.
Some of the ANC structures supporting Zuma argue that he should complete his term so that Ramaphosa can focus on rebuilding the party.
ANC Youth League secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza said Zuma's removal before his term ends would split the ANC. The "old man” still had the capacity to govern the country.
“There is nothing like two centres of power in the ANC, but it is not about individuals. The smooth transition will only be achieved if Zuma remains in his position. President Ramaphosa should use the remaining two years to focus on fixing the ANC and unite it before he takes over the country,” said Nzuza.
He added that the booing of Zuma on Saturday was perpetrated by those who were “obsessed” with him.
ANC Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala said the booing of Zuma was a sign that many want change. He said Zuma’s leadership of the country had caused immense damage.
“We can't have two centres of power. The NEC realises we can't have two centres of power. Once the ANC is in trouble, the country is trouble, the continent is in trouble,” he said.