Zuma still to face challenge from alliance

While the ANC moved to present a united front yesterday following calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign, its alliance partners may still have a go at the head of state.

It is understood that Zuma’s detractors will continue to lobby support for their cause in the build-up to a consultative conference, the first in post-democratic South Africa.

The NEC decided it would hold the consultative conference in conjunction with its policy conference starting in June.

SA Communist Party (SACP) deputy chairman Thulas Nxesi said late yesterday it was due to hold an extended central committee meeting this weekend when issues in the alliance would be discussed.

A number of high-ranking communists serve in Zuma’s cabinet and include Nxesi, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

The SACP has, in recent months, been one of the most critical voices of Zuma’s administration, bemoaning the growing influence of actors outside the alliance.

Nxesi said: “The SACP will hold its extended central committee meeting this weekend, where we will give a comprehensive response to a number of issues in the alliance.”

However, Nxesi said he stood by the ANC statement.

The majority of affiliates within Cosatu – the other alliance partner – have already called for Zuma’s resignation.

The attempt to remove Zuma was defeated and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the matter had been exhausted in the party and was now closed.

The rand weakened more than 2% against the dollar before regaining some of its losses following the announcement.

There are fears of a purge of dissenters, some of them key members of the SACP, but insiders said a cabinet reshuffle was off the table.

Mantashe assured members yesterday that there would be no reprisals for those who had called for Zuma’s resignation.

A group of ministers is said to have been talking on the sidelines of the NEC about resigning en masse if Zuma remained in office.

They were persuaded not to do so as this would give Zuma and his loyalists the upper hand.

Mantashe said: “Our view is that nobody will be treated in a different way because of their position or issues raised in the NEC meeting.”

He said Zuma had not participated in the debate on his future but had only made comments at the end of the meeting.

According to sources who attended the meeting, Zuma, playing the victim, claimed that he had been poisoned three times by those who wanted to get rid of him.

He claimed that the purpose was to block him from leading the ANC and the country.

It was the first time that Zuma had spoken out about being poisoned, although there have been reports that he had allegedly been poisoned by one of his wives.

Zuma was said to be defiant and adamant that he was a good leader as he addressed the NEC meeting on Monday night. – With Maarten Mittner, BDlive

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