Calls for Zuma to resign increase

2016-09-04 06:00

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Johannesburg - The push from within the ANC for President Jacob Zuma to step down is well under way after Phumulo Masualle, the Eastern Cape premier, confirmed that ANC branches had called for Zuma to step down as party leader.

This in the wake of organisers of #OccupyLuthuliHouse expecting hundreds of people to converge on the ANC’s headquarters on Monday, in support of the call for him to do so.

The campaign is intended to be a public display of rebellion within ANC structures, resulting from the party’s poor performance in the recent municipal elections.

The Eastern Cape call follows several ANC meetings – held last weekend in Port Elizabeth and East London – which were attended by party heavyweights, including secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele and Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba.

The purpose of these meetings, said the governing party, was to “reflect” on its performance following last month’s elections.

Asked if there were calls for Zuma to step down Masualle said: “Certainly, yes. There have been such calls from some branches in the province.”

However, the premier was quick to add that the process was in its infancy and one could not conclude that the calls for Zuma’s head were representing the views of the entire province.

“It is only the beginning. We are not yet finished. As a provincial executive committee, we have taken a view that we are not going to put the cart before the horse. Let that engagement proceed. It will culminate at a point where we will converge as a province and take a view.”

Gift Ngqondi, the ANC’s regional spokesperson in Nelson Mandela Bay, said all 60 branches of the governing party in the region met last Sunday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Gigaba, in his capacity as a national executive committee (NEC) member – and accompanied by provincial deputy chair Sakhumzi Somyo – made a presentation.

Last Saturday Mantashe, Cwele and provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane met 50 branches of the Dr WB Rubusana region – formerly the Buffalo City region – at City Hall, where calls for Zuma to step down were reportedly made.

Ngqondi described the meetings in Port Elizabeth, where party members repeated calls for him to do so, as “frank and fruitful”.

“The branches were robust and raised many issues, particularly in relation to national dynamics,” he said.

The ANC’s Northern Cape secretary, Zamani Saul, wrote the critical internal discussion document, called The Anatomy of a Faction: A Negative Tendency.

Saul told City Press: “The lack of internal cohesion in the party exposes it to all sorts of unconventional ways of engagement where party members break ranks with the traditional party line.

“If it is party members who want to occupy Luthuli House, that is breaking ranks with how we do things in the ANC. The question is: Why are members breaking ranks and embarking on unconventional ways of engagement with the party leadership?”

Bonolo Ramokhele, one of the #OccupyLuthuliHouse campaign organisers, told City Press that their decision was instigated by the Constitutional Court ruling that Zuma failed to uphold his oath of office.

He was speaking on the sidelines of what was supposed to be a media briefing, but was interrupted by three ANC youth league leaders of Tshwane.

Youth league chair Lesego Makhubela, his deputy Ezra Letsoalo and secretary Ratshi Mashamba interrupted the meeting just as it got under way, saying the group of organisers was not mandated by any ANC structure to speak to the media. They said they supported Zuma and would press charges against the organisers, who were “masquerading” as ANC members.

Ramokhele, who is a branch member of Ward 32 in Johannesburg, said the campaigners had opted to take this route, rather than go through ANC channels, as they had lost faith in party structures.

“In our culture, when someone is sick you go and you visit them in hospital. It cannot be that the NEC is coming to branches to visit us. How can the one who is sick go and visit the ones who are well?” asked Ramokhele.

He said that at least 70 zonal and regional leaders – representing branches from Johannesburg, Tshwane, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West and Limpopo – met in Gauteng to sort out the finer details of the planned occupation.

“Young people are leading this, but we have the backing of veterans. People who served with Oliver Tambo, people who were there with Chris Hani, they said they support us – not those who ran away as cooks [a reference to Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association leader Kebby Maphatsoe].”

On Friday, the youth league issued this statement: “People can demonstrate, but occupying Luthuli House is a no-no. Don’t try this at Luthuli House.”

Not forgetting its social media followers‚ league spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize included the hashtag, “#Don’tTryThisAtLuthuliHouse”.

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Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

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