President’s backers push for public apology from ‘ill-disciplined’ top three
President Jacob Zuma staged a fightback in the ANC’s extended national working committee (NWC) yesterday, with his backers demanding that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize issue a public apology for publicly disagreeing with his decision to reshuffle his cabinet.
This comes as pressure mounts on Zuma both within and outside the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners to step down after he removed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas in a controversial cabinet reshuffle after midnight last Thursday.
Cosatu yesterday joined the SACP and ANC veterans in calling on the party to recall the president, saying the federation no longer had faith in Zuma to continue leading the alliance.
Those calling for Zuma’s head have been emboldened by Ramaphosa‚ Mantashe and Mkhize’s decision to openly differ with Zuma‚ saying he never consulted them about the changes but merely informed them.
But Zuma’s supporters are believed to have pushed for Ramaphosa‚ Mantashe and Mkhize to explain their “ill-discipline”.
Notes of the meeting that were leaked to the media in error last night mentioned that a discussion about a change of leadership made it onto the agenda.
But the ANC was quick to distance itself from the notes, saying the content was not the official position of the party.
“The African National Congress has noted erroneous communication sent to the ANC media list from ANC communications‚” spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
“This communication was sent out in error‚ is not an official statement of the ANC neither does it represent the views of the ANC. It should thus not be used for the purposes of reporting‚” he said.
An official media conference is scheduled at Luthuli House this morning. There was a suggestion that all top six officials form part of the meeting as a show of unity.
It is believed the SACP and Cosatu also came under attack during the meeting.
The ANC also discussed a strategy of how to counter the motion of no confidence in Zuma which has been tabled in parliament. It is understood that the meeting agreed that all top leaders of the party address the divided ANC caucus in a bid to stop any ANC MPs from voting with the opposition in a motion of no confidence against Zuma.
The meeting came amid calls from the SACP‚ Cosatu and ANC veterans for Zuma to step down or be recalled from office.
The extended national working committee meeting included ANC provincial chairs and secretaries of all nine provinces.
The meeting discussed how the problems in the party could not be swept under the carpet.
The meeting acknowledged that Zuma’s reshuffle had triggered the resurgence of the #ZumaMustFall movement‚ with many mobilising within government and the ANC to remove the president.
Both the DA and the EFF have conceded that they were courting ANC MPs to support their motion of no confidence.
But there has been a general sense in the party leadership that voting with the opposition would be fatal for the party.