Johannesburg - The recent Gupta aircraft scandal has caused divisions in the ANC and in Cabinet and could lead to President Jacob Zuma's ousting, according to unnamed sources in news reports on Monday.
The Star reported that Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had “fallen out” over the Gupta's landing a private aircraft with wedding guests aboard at the Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday April 30.
It said the incident had been the final straw for Mantashe, who had privately expressed concerns that the family wielded too much influence in government and African National Congress affairs.
Mantashe's supporters had since thrown their weight behind ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, after reports that some of Zuma's allies planned to block him from taking over as ANC president in 2017.
It also said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula threatened to resign, rather than be the “fall guy” - a claim her adviser Mike Ramagoma denied.
According to the report, a “kitchen cabinet” of “predominantly Zulu-speaking” ministers and national ANC leaders, took key ANC and government decisions without Mantashe's input.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu dismissed suggestions Mantashe and Zuma had fallen out and that there was a “kitchen cabinet”.
He said that according to ANC tradition, Ramaphosa was likely to succeed Zuma.
The Citizen newspaper said it “understood” that plans were afoot to sack Zuma following the Gupta plane scandal.
“ANC top brass have concluded that Zuma's relationship with the Guptas has brought the organisation and the government into disrepute and Zuma should go,” its source said.
The party was reportedly worried about its performance in the 2014 national elections and its national executive committee (NEC) had lost confidence in him - a claim ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza also rejected, saying the NEC had not even met to discuss the matter.
Daily Maverick writer Ranjeni Munusamy said the ANC had “never before been as forthright in demanding answers from the Zuma administration” over the controversy.
Munusamy wrote: “It could be that Mantashe has simply had enough of the Guptas running the state and ruining his organisation, and decided to stamp his authority on the situation.”
She also noted rumours of a “widening schism” between the Zuma camp and Mantashe, with Mantashe being “less cautious” about upsetting Zuma's friends when he issued a statement questioning the plane's landing. - Sapa