230416. Keditselana Cultural Village in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni. The funeral service of nine of the ten deceased ANC volunteers who lost their live in a fatal bus accident on their way back from the ANC manifesto in Port Elizabeth last weekend. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko 770
230416. Keditselana Cultural Village in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni. The funeral service of nine of the ten deceased ANC volunteers who lost their live in a fatal bus accident on their way back from the ANC manifesto in Port Elizabeth last weekend. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko 770

Zuma camp declares war on detractors

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Apr 24, 2016

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Johannesburg - Defiant ANC Gauteng provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile sat emotionless as pro-Jacob Zuma party leaders used a funeral platform to launch thinly-veiled attacks on his leadership.

Leading the charge against Zuma opponents was Free State Premier Ace Magashule, known to be a strong Zuma ally.

He told those who have in recent weeks called on Zuma to resign to toe the party line and stop attacking him in newspapers and TV.

Those who made the call include veterans such as Ahmed Kathrada, Denis Goldberg, Mavuso Msimang, Trevor Manuel. Magashule was less than two minutes on the podium when he took a swipe at Zuma’s alleged detractors without directly mentioning them by name.

Magashule was speaking at the funeral service for nine of the 10 ANC members who died in a bus accident in the Free State between Winburg and Kroonstad, on Sunday last week. They were returning from the ANC’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth on April 16.

Zuma - the man at the centre of the debacle which was precipitated by the damning Constitutional Court ruling against him on March 31 - was more conciliatory than his ardent supporters such as ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini.

Addressing more than 10 000 people - of which the majority stood outside the marquee - Zuma carefully selected his words when addressing the thorny subject which has divided his party into two camps.

He told his party members that unity was an important element and urged them to unite to win the August 3 local government elections and dedicate their victory to the 10 who died serving the ANC. “We need to close ranks and march in one line towards the elections,” Zuma said.

Indirectly reacting on calls for him to step down, Zuma said ANC rivals were behind such calls: “Their intention is to weaken the cohesion of the ANC. They are doing so in order to approach our members because the ANC is a difficult opponent for them. The ANC has all what it takes to stand its ground.”

Magashule, who spoke before Zuma, was less conciliatory. “I want to emphasise there is one ANC. If the ANC NEC took a decision to discuss our matters internally, that means all of us are supposed to toe the line. It means all provinces must toe the line, Gauteng and its regions and all other provinces.

“There is a concerted effort by our enemies to divide Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces. They want to divide the ANC on the ground.

“The ANC must lead and the ANC must be united,” Magashule said.

He also launched another veiled attack on religious leaders, who included the Reverend Frank Chikane, after they went to the ANC Luthuli House headquarters in Joburg where they asked the ANC to “assist” Zuma to step down. Magashule was pulled no punches as he told mourners that their duty as religious leaders was to lead their churches.

“Pastors must run the affairs of their churches. They spoke on our behalf but they never heard our voices,” he said.

In his concluding remarks, Magashule appealed to ANC veterans and Gauteng ANC to “stop going to the print media and TV networks and work on the ground to ensure an ANC victory on August 3 local government elections,” Magashule said.

During the initial stages of the funeral - an impression of peace and harmony was created by several ANC leaders who came from various parts of the country.

Upon his arrival just before 10am and accompanied by one of his wives Bongi Ngema-Zuma was ushered and seated next to Mashatile.

Next to Mashatile was the ANC’s provincial secretary Hope Papo. On Zuma’s left, it was ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, Magashule and Dr Hlengiwe Mkhize. They all portrayed a united front until Magashule was called to address the mourners.

He described the behaviour of Zuma’s internal opponents as being “unusual”.

Dlamini, another Zuma’s close ally, joined the fray as she took the microphone. She also launched a blistering attack on Zuma’s detractors within the ANC.

Another ally, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe did not want miss the opportunity.

In his speech, he laid on the “children of exile” who included the grandchildren who also called on Zuma to step aside. They include children of ANC stalwarts like Walter Sisulu. Maphatsoe said “they are not going to tell us what to do.”

Mashatile was, however, given the opportunity to introduce Zuma to the mourners. Despite these attacks, Mashatile appeared unmoved as he never reacted.

He instead asked the mourners and ANC members to ensure an ANC victory in the upcoming local government elections.

Sunday Independent

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