President Jacob Zuma.
Venda - Divisions in the ANC Top Six appear to be widening as supporters of President Jacob Zuma are resolute that he delivers the State of the Nation address (Sona) in Parliament on Thursday, while others supporting newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, such as ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, are adamant that Zuma must step down to avoid creating two centres of power in the country.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule confirmed that the Top Six were in negotiations with Zuma over his future in government but said that the president “is going to deliver the State of the Nation address”.

His confirmation, while addressing the media in Venda, Limpopo on Saturday, came amid expectations that the ANC was due to announce Zuma’s recall on Sunday but that looks unlikely as the party’s top leadership and members of its national executive committee (NEC) continue their pilgrimage to various Royal Houses in Limpopo.

On Saturday, these party leaders visited VhaVenda king Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and Shangaan and Tsonga chiefs. Speaking to CNBC Africa’s Political Capital on Friday, Mashatile said the party’s leadership wanted Zuma’s exit to be handled internally.

This was to avoid him facing a motion of no-confidence in Parliament, brought forward by the EFF, scheduled for February 22, as well as possible impeachment, the rules of which are set to be finalised before the joint rules committee’s last house sitting for the term on March 15.

Magashule recently came under attack from the ANC Veterans League for the very same utterances that Zuma was going nowhere.

Rebuking Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte for their comments, ANC Veterans League Limpopo chairperson Jacob Marule said their utterances “can only be termed as misguided support and blind loyalty” to Zuma. 

However, pressure is also mounting on Ramaphosa whose fitness to lead the ANC and government has been questioned. 

A group calling itself the Concerned members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans have written a letter to Magashule in which they demand that Ramaphosa must not assume any leadership roles in the party until he is cleared of explosive allegations against him revealed in a book, Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary, authored by businessman Gayton McKenzie.

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“There are startling allegations that we need to have the leadership address and pronounce publicly the stance of the organisation,” said the group in their letter. One such allegation McKenzie makes that the group says must be addressed urgently is that Ramaphosa joined the ANC only in 1991 and became the party’s secretary-general in the same year. “We are surprised and shocked that a member who joined the ANC only in 1991 has been elevated, with the overt support of big business, banks, the white-owned and controlled media and the courts, as president of the ANC.

“Our leaders in exile for many years warned us to be wary of leaders who will appear from nowhere and lead the movement away from its objectives,” said the group.

Meanwhile, people marching to Luthuli House to protest against any decision to recall Zuma as head of state will do so at their own risk.

This was the warning issued by Johannesburg metro police yesterday after a group of organisations from mainly KwaZulu-Natal, including taxi bosses and businesspeople, vowed to descend on the ANC’s headquarters in Joburg tomorrow to urge Ramaphosa to desist from announcing the recall on Monday.

Addressing journalists about their planned march on Friday, Bafana Nzuza said they made a formal application to the “DA-controlled City of Joburg” to march to Luthuli House. On Friday, he said, they were still waiting for a response from the city.

But JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar has denied the city received an application for a march. 

“So it means their march is unprotected. We cannot protect them,” he said.

The Joburg metro’s reaction came as some ANC members, through social media, have already made an appeal to party members, voters and supporters to join them at Luthuli House early on Monday to defend the ANC headquarters against counter-revolutionaries (BLF) “which are marching to our office to undermine the leadership of the ANC”.

The organisers of #DefendANC, Mkhululi White and Lele Sekete, have also vowed to call a press briefing on Sunday at which they would commit to not “allow factionalists, opportunists and those who refuse to respect and defend the democratically elected leadership of the ANC to destroy and divide us”.

The organisers of the march were adamant that Magashule was aware of their intentions to march and to receive their memorandum.

In their press briefing, it became clear that their intentions to march were twofold, according to Nzuza and Nhlanhla Shabalala of the National Funeral Practitioners Association (Nafupa). 

The organisers want the ANC to endorse their campaign that Indian and white people should be barred from doing business in black townships.

“Let the white people bury their own people and the Indians do the same. We want to bury our own people,” Shabalala said.

Endorsing the campaign in Joburg, Nzuza said: “In the township that I come from, Inanda, there is this Indian man who operated buses ever since I was a child. He has since died but his business has been taken over by his children. We want our people to take over that business,” said Nzuza, who wasn’t available to react to the Joburg metro on Saturday.

Sunday Independent