Zuma fights for power
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma is fighting the political battle of his life – this time against people who helped push him to power in 2007.
And just like before the ANC’s watershed Polokwane conference, the battle for control of the ruling party has spilled over into the country’s security services.
Zuma “passionately” believes there is a bid to unseat him as party president at next year’s Mangaung conference and has now also lost faith in his police chief, General Bheki Cele.
Increased his grip
This comes after Zuma’s go-ahead for the country’s domestic (Gibson Njenje) and foreign (Moe Shaik) spy bosses to be sacked. Over the past few weeks, Zuma has increased his grip on the party and the state by:
- Fervently pushing for the ANC to bring disciplinary charges against ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who is leading the league’s charge to have Zuma replaced by his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, in Mangaung;
- Announcing a commission of inquiry into the multibillion-rand arms deal, of which he would determine the terms of reference;
- Informing Cele that he intends to institute an inquiry into allegations of misconduct relating to the signing of multimillion-rand leases for police buildings; and
- Choosing State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s side in his battle with the country’s spy chiefs, who allegedly spied on the Gupta family and refused to trail Zuma’s political opponents.
Plot against him
According to a senior intelligence source, Zuma “passionately believes in the allegations made by (suspended crime intelligence boss) Richard Mdluli and is convinced that there is a plot to unseat him. He doesn’t trust Cele or Njenje. The police headquarters saga gives him an opportunity to get rid of Cele.”
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her first report into the leases in February, but Zuma only acted six months later, asking Cele for reasons he should not be suspended. This week Zuma’s office announced that he had received Cele’s response and would institute an inquiry in terms of the Police Act into Cele’s actions.
Mdluli declassified a “ground coverage intelligence report” in October last year that detailed an alleged plot by Zuma’s one-time allies – including Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Cele – to unseat him.
Mdluli is believed to have sent this report to Zuma.
At the same time, Mdluli was arrested for alleged murder – a case his supporters believe “will never stick”. This week the Hawks, over which Cele still exercises control, again arrested Mdluli, this time for allegedly abusing intelligence funds to buy cars and houses.
According to the intelligence source, Zuma would probably pay out Njenje “because he (Njenje) holds far too many trump cards”.
On Shaik, the source said Zuma had no qualms with him, but he “doesn’t want to get involved in the dispute between Cwele and Shaik, and will do nothing to intervene to save Shaik”.
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga defended Zuma’s delay in taking action against Cele. “Why must the president act as if there is a state of emergency? There is no state of emergency,” he said.
An aide who was travelling with Zuma in the US said: “These international relations things don’t bother him. It is what’s happening at home that keeps him awake at night.”
Political commentator Professor Kwandiwe Kondlo said Zuma’s moves were aimed at both boosting public confidence in his administration ahead of the 2013 general elections and consolidating his internal support in the ANC ahead of Mangaung.