Chikane in ANC's line of fire
By Political Bureau
The "Chikane Files" have rattled the ruling party and government, with some conspiratorially questioning former director-general Frank Chikane's political allegiance.
The series of columns, published in The Star, have led to some in the cabinet discussing whether the government should respond to what some ministers termed "distortions".
A minister told The Star anonymously that the feeling among his colleagues was that Chikane was questioning the integrity of President Jacob Zuma.
A senior government official said some believed that Chikane was part of the wider plot to undermine the ANC ahead of the local government elections and the ruling party's national general council, a mid-term gathering to review the party's programmes and policies.
Some went to the extent of suggesting that Chikane was part of a Cope plot to reinforce the power of the divided opposition party.
But the main concern among cabinet members was that Chikane breached formal and informal confidentiality ethos by revealing private conversations and discussions.
The debate raged at the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Friday, with some baying for Chikane's blood.
But some NEC members called for sanity and caution, urging individual leaders to write alternative views without "insulting and suppressing Chikane".
An NEC member said the angry reaction was due to the "Polokwane backlash", a reference to the power struggle that raged in 2007.
"They cannot simply differ without questioning opponents' integrity. We need a higher sense of maturity and tolerance," said the ANC official.
But the majority won, resulting in the ANC accusing the former director-general of "distorting the truth". The party has asked its members to be cautious.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Saturday that the ruling party took exception to Chikane's writings and would meet with him to raise their issues.
"It is in the character of the ANC to promote freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information within the ANC and broader society. However, the publication of the Chikane Files, especially aspects that purport to report in a distorted fashion NEC meetings when Reverend Chikane was not even present, is viewed in a very serious light," said Mantashe.