‘It’s far from over, Mister President’

2017-08-13 06:00
President Jacob Zuma during his closing address at the ANC’s policy conference in Johannesburg.  (Themba Hadebe, AP)

President Jacob Zuma during his closing address at the ANC’s policy conference in Johannesburg. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Another bid to oust President Jacob Zuma following a failed opposition motion on Tuesday could see the ANC’s alliance partners teaming up with civil society and taking to the streets.

The planned mass action would also, for the first time, seek to involve ANC members who are disgruntled with Zuma’s leadership, but have shunned previous protests to avoid association with the opposition.

Leading the charge is the SA Communist Party (SACP), whose first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila has defended ANC MPs who voted against Zuma in the no-confidence motion on August 8 on the grounds that they have been “failed by the political leadership” of the alliance.

The alliance has also failed to act fast enough to remove a discredited leader, said Mapaila, adding that Cosatu’s pending decision on the final date for a national strike against state capture would be useful.

He said that all the ANC’s allies would meet to concretise a joint programme that entailed demonstrations throughout the country against Zuma, whose stay in office “continued to rip the country apart”.

There was no time frame set for the intensive mass mobilisation, but the party had started working with civil society – often demonised by the ANC as regime-change forces since publicly making a call for Zuma to resign.

Save SA this week indicated that the worst was yet to come for Zuma. It called on all South Africans to join civil society in the final wave of struggle to isolate Zuma and ensure he was recalled by his own party before his term of office ended.

Over the next few days, it would consult with other civil society organisations under the banner of Future SA to ensure that Zuma is removed as head of state.

Internal revolt

The SA Council of Churches, through its secretary-general, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, said that it was time ordinary South Africans rose up and took charge of their own future, instead of relying on politicians.

Zuma will be fighting off three court cases in the next few weeks until September. This includes the “spy tapes” case, the impeachment motion by the Economic Freedom Fighters and the review of the Public Protector’s state capture report.

A narrow 21 votes ensured Zuma’s survival in the National Assembly, but the support for the opposition motion by ANC MPs has left a bitter taste with ANC leaders who support Zuma.

Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule on Friday called on those MPs to resign from the ANC. But attempts to sniff out those who did are proving frustratingly difficult as a result of the vote having been by secret ballot.

Comments by ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize that the dissidents were out of line have given the Zuma faction hope that their concerns were getting attention at the highest level in the ANC.

Although he said the conduct of the dissidents was unacceptable, Mkhize preferred that the ANC face the hard reality and deal with the reasons that led to what transpired in Parliament, “as raw and thorny as it comes”.

The difficulties that led to the internal revolt must be ironed out.

“Years ago, we would have thought that, if you speak about ANC members of Parliament voting with the opposition, we would have said it’s impossible. So it’s a serious concern that we are seeing (sic).

“There is a lot of internal analysis needed to deal with what happened. It’s a symptom of some of these challenges that we are facing as an organisation. It’s a symptom of difficulties in not being able to resolve issues among ourselves ... allowing the opposition [to take] advantage of us.”

Mkhize said it was understandable that some ANC members would call for those who defied the party to be disciplined, but cautioned against basing this on names circulating without having been verified.

“A proper process will assist us on who has done what. Without evidence, it’s not an issue you can treat haphazardly. It may be tricky to discipline them without a proper investigation [into] who did what. There hasn’t been a proper meeting to deal with this issue, so there is nothing concrete of what the next steps are and so I can’t predict.”

Mapaila said the SACP would defend its members who are MPs and counted among those labelled “traitors”.

Opposition rising

Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe recently told City Press plans for a national shutdown of the economy over state capture and corruption have been put in place and a formal strike notice has been submitted with Nedlac.

The SACP has resolved to support the Cosatu section 77 strike against state capture, expected to take place at the latest before the end of August.

The ANC insists that removing Zuma is a threat to stability in the party and government.

City Press has learnt that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe used the same argument to save Zuma at a meeting with the ANC caucus a few hours before the motion was debated in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

It’s understood most ANC MPs who would initially have voted with their conscience against Zuma and risked being dealt with, started to “retreat” after the caucus meeting with Mantashe, where he painted a picture of an ANC too divided to agree on a candidate to replace Zuma if he goes.

Mantashe, who took the platform alone as Zuma watched, told MPs Zuma’s departure would force an early election, probably in December, at the same time as the party was supposed to be holding an national conference.

“The earlier threat that people would be disciplined if they voted with the opposition did not have any effect,” said an anti-Zuma MP. “But when Mantashe spoke at the caucus, people started talking about being cautious and not to act recklessly.”

A pro-Zuma ANC national executive committee member said Mantashe was “brilliant,” adding that after he had spoken, everyone agreed with his input and the meeting ended.

Many in the ANC believe that the party’s December conference will give it the fresh start it needs.

“We are going to fight until the bitter end, so only the national conference will save the ANC and give us direction,” said a Zuma ally.

Mapaila warned that ANC members would get a rude awakening if they continued to believe the false notion that a solution would be found at that gathering.

“What they don’t know is that Zuma and his faction are already stealing elections. We reported to the ANC secretariat as early as last November that votes were being stolen. They did nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, the DA has defended its decision to call for early elections and for Parliament to be dissolved. The suggestion has been rejected by most opposition parties.

DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said that the country could not survive under the ANC until 2019. “It is time for early elections. This is what happens in a democracy. Sometimes a snap election is required, it happens. Also because, for the first time, ANC MPs voted with the opposition in a motion of no confidence, it demonstrates that the ANC itself does not have the highest confidence in Zuma. You can’t separate Zuma from the ANC.”

She said there were statistics that showed that the ANC was polling under 50% and has been for some time now.

“What is wrong with saying, let us use a democratic process to allow South African voters to say whether or not they want to be led in the current trajectory?”

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