Spectre of Jacob Zuma's ongoing defiance hangs over divided ANC’s NEC meeting
Johannesburg - The ANC National Executive Committee began its three-day meeting on Friday with the party caught up in divisions.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of former President Jacob Zuma launching an attack on the judiciary, with his supporters backing him and his detractors calling for action.
Zuma's staunchest allies, the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), backed the former head of state over his latest anti-judiciary comments.
Zuma on Friday hit back at the country's judiciary following the Constitutional Court's hearing of an urgent application by the commission of inquiry into state capture to have him jailed for two years for contempt of court.
MKMVA president and ANC MP Kebby Maphatsoe told Independent Media that Zuma's position was informed by his stance as a freedom fighter.
"(Former) president Zuma must not be treated just like any other ordinary person," Maphatsoe said.
He said the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo "must negotiate with him”.
Maphatsoe continued: "There are issues, when you are dealing with a former president, that you might need to call and engage the former president and negotiate."
He implored Justice Zondo to go and talk to Zuma despite all being equal before the law.
According to Maphatsoe, Zuma has not yet undermined the law.
"Why is there a hurry? Is the inquiry about Zuma?' he asked.
Maphatsoe said it appeared that the laws of the country applied to Zuma differently compared to other South African citizens.
"He is right to say history will absolve him," he explained.
The DA condemned Zuma's attack on the judiciary and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to state whether or not he backed his predecessor.
"We call on Ramaphosa to clearly and emphatically state whether he and his party, the ANC, support Zuma’s attempts to discredit the judiciary and the Zondo commission of inquiry. Any further silence from Ramaphosa could well be construed as support of Zuma’s disregard for the judiciary and the rule of law," the official Opposition said in a statement.
According to the DA, Ramaphosa now has an opportunity to show the nation where he and his party stands. "A failure to do so will lead to the ineluctable conclusion that the president and his party do not stand for the rule of law," the party claimed.
On Friday, the ANC said it would not get involved in Zuma's spat with the judiciary and the commission.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told Independent Media that Zuma was addressing the institutions quoted in his scathing statement released on Thursday.
Zuma claimed that the commission no longer sought his attendance, but instead had joined the political campaign to destroy him.
"It also reveals that this was always the commission’s mandate,” said Zuma, accusing Justice Zondo of “exploiting his proximity to the Constitutional Court to protect and advance his own interests as chairperson of the commission”.
The SACP likened opponents of the state capture inquiry to "the regrouping of the post-Polokwane New Tendency that now coalesces around attacking the commission.
"Elements behind this manoeuvre now appear to be destined for a counter-revolutionary offensive against some of the institutions of our democracy. These elements are deliberately intensifying divisions in our broader movement and sowing society-wide chaos, to try and stop the law from taking its course," the party said.
The SACP insisted that every person required to appear before the commission to account for their actions must do so.
"No person, regardless of their social, political and class standing in our society, must be allowed to hold the development, deepening and widening of our democracy and accountability to ransom," the organisation stated.
The party urged the country's law enforcement agencies to tackle anyone who thinks that they can topple Ramaphosa, is above the rule of law and defies court judgments, without mentioning Zuma by name.