Johannesburg - The St George’s Hotel in Centurion, Tshwane, was the ANC’s battleground as Jacob Zuma’s camp came out guns blazing against national executive member Derek Hanekom on Saturday.
Leading the charge was former minister of public enterprises and NEC member Mosebenzi Zwane.
It was planned as a NEC meeting convention, with no discussions on the public protector’s reports and spy networks in the ANC. But tempers ran high. The “Zuma camp” consolidated its power against what they called the “dark forces” in the movement. In what looked like a repeat of the ANC’s 54th national elective conference in Nasrec in 2017, the two ANC factions baying for blood.
The Zuma camp want Hanekom expelled and President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for the public protector’s findings that he received more than R900 million in personal campaign funding to be the ANC’s president.
The ANC’s unity project effectively collapsed with the Zuma camp giving the NEC an ultimatum, “Hanekom or us!”
Sparks began to fly when Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan faced off with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in court as Gordhan took Mkhwebane’s adverse findings against him into review.
Right after the court processes all hell broke loose. In support of Mkhwebane, EFF leader Julius Malema and his supporters gathered inside and outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Shortly after the court proceeding, Malema ascended the EFF-constructed stage outside and accused Hanekom of plotting with the EFF to remove the former president. Malema alleged that Hanekom and SACP deputy secretary-general Solly Mapaila had given him the list of MPs who would vote against Zuma in the eighth vote of no-confidence sitting.
“Today he calls us fascists, but Derek Hanekom plotted with us to bring down president Zuma. The same goes for Solly Mapaila too,” Malema said.
Malema then upped the ante, alleging that Hanekom was planning to form a new political party.
“He even told us that if NDZ (Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma) wins (during the 2017 ANC leadership battle), they are forming a new political party. And we have recordings to that effect. With Mapaila, there is no communist party. There is a faction of the ANC. We are not scared of them ideologically or politically,” Malema said.
Under pressure to respond to Malema’s allegations, Hanekom finally admitted to the plot.
In a text message that was circulated widely on social media, Hanekom said it was no secret that there were a number of discussions with opposition parties to force Zuma out.
On Thursday, Hanekom was at pains to explain his meeting with the EFF, saying parliamentarians meet all the time. “I had a meeting with one member of the EFF at the time and when you’re in Parliament you have such meetings all the time.
“I sat down and had coffee with one prominent member of the EFF at the time, a meeting he requested, I should say. We discussed how to deal with a difficult time in the country’s history and there was no way I would refuse discussions of that nature.
Hanekom told SABC news : “2017 was a year in which we saw mass action our country was in a crisis and we know all that centred around our then president”.
He said many political parties discussed issues centred around Zuma’s leadership at that time and that it was well known that the ANC NEC also discussed the former president in its meetings.
“We requested that he step down in 2017 and we did not succeed and (in) the NEC first meeting in 2018, it was the ANC that instructed Zuma to step down from office which was the right thing to do,” he said.
“In the course of 2017, the matter was in Parliament and we had to discuss how to best handle the matter. I must say it’s much ado about nothing parliamentarians speak to each other. I don’t know what the fuss is all about.”
Hanekom further denied EFF leader Malema’s allegations that he planned to form a new party.
“That I certainly didn’t do, he will have to provide that list. There was an assessment of what we can achieve, and if done through parliamentary means, what the ANC attitude would be at that time that was the nature of the discussion. Those discussions were happening and that is well known.
“Civil society, which I am also part of, as chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, was demanding that Zuma step down at that point. I supported that demand and it happened,” he added.
However, in a statement, the ANC, through secretary-general Ace Magashule, lashed out at Hanekom.
“Hanekom had full access to air his acerbic views in the NEC of the ANC, he did so ad nauseam. He always spoke in an even, practiced voice, linking all the bad publicity that the ANC has had to the accusations against former president Zuma,” said Magashule.
“The ANC is working to unite its members and in our midst is Derek Hanekom, a wedge-driver on a mission to divide the ANC. Indeed, this charlatan is making his mark through his ownership of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.”
Adding to the fray, Zuma tweeted: “I’m not surprised by (Julius Malema’s) revelations regarding Derek Hanekom. It is part of the plan I mentioned at the Zondo Commission. Derek Hanekom is a known enemy agent.”
Earlier in the month, Zuma told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture about an alleged decades-long campaign of character assassination in an attempt to “get rid” of him.
“Some say this old man is angry,” he said at the time. “All I’m saying is people must be very careful. When I say, I will say things about them - I mean it.”
He warned his detractors that he would reveal information about more “spies” in the ruling party, after claiming his former Cabinet ministers Siphiwe Nyanda and Ngoako Ramatlhodi were double agents in the apartheid-era.
According to two sources, Zwane told the NEC on Friday that some in the Top Six and the NEC accused Magashule and Zuma of master-minding the creation of new political party, the African Transformation Movement, while they themselves would create a new party if Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma won.
Meanwhile, there were talks that the Ramaphosa camp had scheduled its own “after hours” meeting to discuss its fightback in light of the public protector’s findings against him, Gordhan and the revelations on Hanekom and its alliance partner the SACP.
According to sources, the meeting was planned to be held at Montecasino at 9pm on Friday night.
Montecasino declined to confirm or deny if such a venue had been booked.