Eastern Cape ANC chairman Phumulo Masualle defended President Jacob Zuma yesterday, saying recalling him would not necessarily solve the party’s problems.
Masualle said it would instead play into the hands of opposition parties.
He lashed out at opposition parties in the National Assembly for trying to dictate to the ANC that it should force Zuma to resign.
Masualle was addressing ANC councilors and government employees at a packed Orient Theatre in East London.
The meeting was called by provincial bosses to reflect on the ANC’s poor showing in the August 3 municipal elections.
The Eastern Cape premier made his remarks as Zuma met 101 ANC veterans who have called on him to step down.
Masualle’s comments are the latest indication that the Eastern Cape ANC, which played a crucial role in Zuma being re-elected as party president in 2012, wants him to serve his full term, despite mounting calls for the president to resign.
Hitting out at opposition parties, Masualle said they wanted to weaken the ANC by calling for Zuma’s head.
ANC MPs should be commended for rallying behind their president, he said. “No matter what our problems, we can never get advice from our detractors.
“They are offering us a solution that the sum total of your problems is equal to one man, and that is the president of the ANC.
“It can’t be like that. It would be lazy on our part. Even if we would subscribe to that, it would be lazy.”
“Their interest is to render us off balance. We are not going to be dictated to by anybody else how we attend or characterize our problems,” he said to applause.
A more comprehensive approach to solving party problems was needed.
Masualle called for unity, saying voting with opposition parties in council meetings was the worst form of ill-discipline.
ANC public representatives should always serve residents with dignity, he said, as he reflected on how the party had been toppled from power in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro and Kouga councils.
The ANC’s support in the Buffalo City metro has also decreased, with proportional representative seats down to 19 from 28 after the August elections.
The ANC heavyweight called on councillors, MPLs and MPs to present themselves to communities as a credible voice and not reduce the party into “that party of those who wear dirty overalls”, taking a swipe at Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.
Masualle instructed ANC deployees to have regular report-back meetings. “We must learn from our mistakes so that people will know that we are not mentally unstable,” he said, likening yesterday’s meeting to the 1955 gathering that drafted the ANC’s Freedom Charter.