ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said a motion of no confidence in Zuma was not on the agenda at the NEC meeting. File picture: Siyanda Zakhe

Johannesburg - The ANC was on Saturday locked behind closed doors discussing challenges dogging the organisation, amid growing calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was dismissive on whether a motion of no confidence in Zuma was on the table, saying the matter was not on the agenda.

Mantashe, briefing journalists on the sidelines of the meeting at the St George’s Hotel in Irene outside Pretoria, admitted that the gathering was going to be “quite hectic and quite heavy”.

It comes on the backdrop of mounting pressure from the civil society, the clergy, academics and the ANC stalwarts and veterans for Zuma to step down.

On Zuma’s recall, Mantashe said: “We are reading it in newspapers that there’s going to be blood on the floor. We have not seen that blood on the floor yet. It’s not an agenda item.”

He said the meeting would receive a report from the national working committee which covered many current issues.

“Every issue that is under discussion will be in this NEC. We will be dealing with the question of femicide as a standalone item so that we come up with a programme on it.”

“We will be dealing with the preparation for the policy conference (in June) and the roadmap to the national conference (in December)," he said.

"So that is what this NEC is going to be. It’s going to be quite hectic and quite heavy for the day (Saturday) and for tomorrow (Sunday),” said Mantashe.

He said that every current political issue would be discussed at the meeting and that nothing was off limits.

The ANC stalwarts and veterans wrote an open letter to the NEC this week, requesting it to recall Zuma.

But Mantashe said the matter would not be discussed as it was not on the agenda.

“When you write an open letter, it’s not a correspondence to the ANC. It’s an open letter, it’s in the public, anybody can read it. For instance, somebody from Thailand forwarded that letter to me I have it already. When you send an open letter it’s not a correspondence to the ANC, it’s an open letter to the public … It’s not an item here,” he said, in a dismissive tone.

But later in the day, the stalwarts issued a media statement, saying the open letter had also been sent to Mantashe requesting that NEC members be given the copy to be considered at the meeting.

“This was obviously to ensure that the letter was formally received by the members of the NEC from the Office of the SG (secretary-general) and to avoid the situation that the letter was first brought to the attention of the NEC through media coverage,” the statement said.

Zuma’s political report to the meeting “covers quite a number of important and fundamental issues," Mantashe said.

Mantashe said the NEC would also deal with the SA Council of Churches’ state capture report by its “unburdening panel”, which warned that the country was on the brink of becoming a mafia state.

Another report, this time by academics, titled “Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen”, warned against state capture, saying it was a silent coup.

@luyolomkentane

Political Bureau