Zuma ditches Eastern Cape ANC meeting

President Jacob Zuma
File picture: Reuters

Replacement Xasa lays into the Guptas

President Jacob Zuma pulled out of the ANC Eastern Cape policy conference at the weekend, and replacement speaker Fikile Xasa used the opportunity to lay into the “Guptas and their friends”.

The tone of the conference could indicate that the province is emerging as a strong anti-Zuma bloc.

Following Zuma’s 11th-hour cancellation of his commitment to give political input at the gathering in East London, his stand-in, NEC member Xasa, pulled no punches and called for the Guptas’ isolation in the party.

No reason was given for Zuma’s noshow.

Zuma has not appeared at any ANC event of provincial significance in the Eastern Cape this year. His deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the January 8 anniversary celebrations in Mthatha.

However, Zuma addressed two regional elective conferences in March – one in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the other in Amathole, where his known loyalists had emerged victorious.

Xasa, addressing hundreds of hypedup delegates, said it was unfortunate that the people of South Africa had voted the ANC into power yet it seemed the role had now been assumed by the Guptas.

Xasa was one of the 18 NEC members who supported the motion for Zuma to step down at the last NEC meeting. However, the motion was defeated.

“It seems these Guptas are now governing South Africa, and not the ANC, even though the people of South Africa voted the ANC into power, and not these Guptas,” Xasa said, to emphatic applause from the delegates.

“Those among us within the ANC who are allowing the Guptas to infiltrate us must be isolated. We must isolate the Guptas and their friends and we will not be silenced by anyone on this.

“This Gupta thing we associate with corruption, and corruption is hurting the ANC. Speaking against that is how we are going to renew the ANC,” Xasa said.

Xasa, who is also Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC in the province, encouraged the gathering to craft solid policy proposals that would have a positive impact at the ANC national policy conference, which is scheduled to start on Friday.

As they did so, he went on, “they must keep in mind what kind of leaders they will entrust with the task of implementing those policies as the party’s national elective conference in December approaches”.

ANC provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle, who opened the conference, said the party in the province had to consolidate its unity heading to the national conference.

“We are here to unite and go to the national policy conference as a single, indivisible delegation of the Eastern Cape, not small divided groups and factions,” Masualle said.

“We should be one unit and forget about being Manxadanxada [a campaign phrase associated with his ambition for a third term in the chair] or the Soweto train [the phrase associated with Oscar Mabuyane’s campaign to replace him].”

Xasa also called on ANC members to revolt against the alienation of party veterans.

This followed confusion surrounding the two-day so-called “renewal” special consultative conference called for by ANC veterans, scheduled to precede the national policy conference.

Xasa applauded the province for embracing this call as it was the only ANC province to have done so.

“We cannot allow some of these comrades to refer to ANC veterans as factional groups. As members we must revolt against leadership which suggests we must detach ourselves from our history.

“The ANC cannot say it does not have veterans when it is 105 years old,” Xasa said

During his opening address, Masualle said while the province would be addressing policy issues of national relevance, it should not be ashamed to advance policies that had a bias to the province, like traditional leader issues.

“We have all come to appreciate that the main issue is poverty, inequality and unemployment that are rife among our youth and we keep saying that ANC policies are very good, they only need an aggressive implementation,” Masualle said.

“As the Eastern Cape we still need to sharpen our perspective on the interaction between democratically elected institutions and our traditional institutions, taking account of the practical experiences we have on the ground.”

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