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'Remove me – if you dare'

President Jacob Zuma File picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

President Jacob Zuma File picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Mar 30, 2017

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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma has thrown down the gauntlet to ANC members who want him to quit as President of South Africa.

“He’s invited them,” said a source close to Zuma, “to ‘remove me – if you dare’.”

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In the past few days, the battle for the soul of the ANC has moved into overdrive, with the both the president and his opponents moving decisively to play their hand.

On Thursday, a source close to the Zuma camp accused some ANC members of working with the EFF and the DA in a bid to remove Zuma.

At the same time, a rumour began circulating that a compromise “deal had been brokered that would see the president stepping down within 12 months, if Gordhan and Jonas were to leave office.

But our source said: “That’s rubbish. It’s just disinformation being spread by Zuma’s opponents. They’re using a story from Reuters, which is not known for the accuracy of its reports about South African politics.

“Zuma is very angry. This is not the way he operates. He will not quit. He intends fulfilling his term.

“He believes he has vast majority support across the country – and that this majority, will enable him to beat off the challenge of those who want him out.

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“One of the other pieces of disinformation had secretary-general Gwede Mantashe trying to persuade Zuma to step down. But whoever spread this rumour simply circulated an anonymous tweet picked up from Twitter.

Turning to the furore over Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, our source said Zuma believes that just as he appointed Gordhan, so can he relieve him of his duties.

“People must understand, Pravin works for Zuma,” our source said.

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And responding to comments that the president had sidelined his alliance partners, he added: "Zuma is well aware of how the tripartite alliance works. Normally, he would consult with his alliance partners, and he is very careful to take their views into consideration. But he does not need to follow their advice. The buck stops with him.”

Our source says Zuma has the support he needs in the cabinet and in the NEC Top 6. But while he admitted the president’s support needed to be tested in the ANC’s parliamentary caucus, he said Zuma knows that he has overwhelming support in regions such as Nelson Mandela Bay and eThekwini.

“He is very strong in the party.”

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A key moment in the fight for the soul for the soul of the ANC was Zuma’s decision to recall Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebesi Jonas from an investor conference overseas.

This immediately led to speculation that Gordhan was about to be axed from the cabinet.

“When Zuma acts as decisively as this,” he knows he’s in a strong position,” our source said.

But the anti-Zuma group within the party, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe has not been standing back. Delivering the eulogy at the funeral of Ahmed Kathrada on Wednesday, Motlanthe quoted from a letter written by the Struggle veteran almost a year ago, in which he asked the president to resign.

Mourners, including cabinet ministers such as Aaron Motsoaledi, rose and clapped. ANC luminary Winnie Mandela, although she did not rise to her feet, smiled broadly.

The Zuma camp was very angry, and they have accused Motlanthe and his supporters of using the funeral of the ANC veteran to wage their campaign against the president.

Asked to comment, spokesperson in the presidency Bongani Ngqulunga, requested questions to be put to him in writing, but at the time of going to press, he had not yet responded to these

questions.

Political Bureau

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