Zuma will not fall without a fight

2016-11-10 07:59
Mahlatse Gallens

Mahlatse Gallens

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President Jacob Zuma has thrown down the gauntlet and indicated that he is not going down without a fight.

During a speech to hundreds of ANC supporters in Dumbe in KwaZulu-Natal he accused the opposition of "using the courts to scare the ANC".

"We are not going to be intimidated," he declared.

It was a message not only to the opposition, but to everyone calling for him to step down following one of his most horrid weeks in office.

He failed to stop the release of the state capture report that revealed new evidence alleging that he failed to act against his “friends” the Gupta family who seemingly have undue influence on parts of the state.

Reports also say he had a meeting with officials who asked him to step down as the report recommended that he institute a judicial inquiry essentially on himself, testing once again if he has lived up to his oath to defend the country's Constitution. When it happens it will test whether he violated the executive ethics code, putting the party under more scrutiny and in disrepute.

The past week's calls for him to step down grew louder from his erstwhile comrades, colleagues, clergy union, ordinary South Africans – the voices of those fed up dominated. But while these calls are turning up the heat the consequential battle is inside the National Executive Committee of the party.  

The highest decision making body of the ANC is due to meet at the end of the month and while the battle lines are drawn, in the end principles will not hold up and it will be a numbers game.

Zuma’s great political stroke was ensuring he had the numbers in this committee at the Mangaung conference and over the years it has remained loyal and ready to defend him at all costs.

But could the tide be turning?

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has made it clear that it is only the NEC or 5 provinces that can call for a special congress to elect new leadership. Yet earlier this year the NEC said the motion pushed forward by the ANC Youth League was defeated following consultations with the branches. 

It was the same NEC that decided on collective responsibility after the dismal showing at the local government polls and another real threat of decline in 2019. It was the NEC that also accepted Zuma’s apology after the highest court of the land found that he failed to uphold and defend the Constitution. And those supporting him are now arguing that the Public Protector’s report was not conclusive so renewed debate on his departure is unwarranted.

Essentially Mantashe told us last week that they are at their last resort – appealing to Zuma's conscience. He has the firm support of the Youth League, Women’s League, Umkhonto we Sizwe military veterans, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and parts of KwaZulu-Natal. And they are determined that he finishes his term at the 2017 elective congress. ANC NEC members like Jackson Mthembu and Mathole Motshekga are perhaps trying to inspire others sitting on the fence in the NEC to find a voice and start realising that it's time to prepare for a future beyond Zuma.

The battle for Zuma to go is also being fought in Parliament where members on Thursday will vote in another motion of no confidence. This gives the opposition another platform to remind South Africans of the Zuma scandals even if it is unlikely to pass.

Even if there were members of the ANC fed up with Zuma few would be willing to give their foes a victory on a silver platter. His dismissal, should it happen, should be owned by the party and both sides agree on this. We can expect them to close ranks, leave their conscience at home and use their numbers to defeat it.

Zuma is shaken. The real threat of jail is sinking in, but he will not fall without a fight.

* Gallens is News24's political editor. Follow her on Twitter: @hlatseentle.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  state capture

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