ANC questions timing of Zuma 'plot' report
Johannesburg - The ANC on Monday questioned the timing of a report on a plot to oust President Jacob Zuma at the ANC's elective conference in 2012.
"The timing of the disclosure of the so-called plot which is at the time when senior members of the crime intelligence are facing criminal charges and the ANC is facing elections raises many questions, chief among them; whether there is no pattern emerging where indeed there are attempts from some quarters and the media to portray 'an ANC that is at war with itself'," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu in a statement.
"In this regard we want to state categorically that the ANC national leadership, all its provinces and branches, are united behind the leadership of comrade Jacob Zuma.
"No attempt to sow division within the ANC leadership and the ANC broadly will ever work. We have defeated these tendencies in the past and we will not fail to defeat them now."
This followed a report by the Sunday Independent which named alleged conspirators plotting Zuma's removal as president of the ANC.
The report said a 22-page document, allegedly emanating from an intelligence probe into national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, detailed the conspiracy to oust Zuma.
It was reportedly stated in the document that Cele, a known Zuma supporter, had "ditched" the President in favour of Human Settlements Minister and ANC national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale.
The paper reported that the arrest of crime intelligence boss Richard Mdludli had "lifted the lid on a ferocious political tug-of-war raging in the ANC" ahead of the 2012 conference.
The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported that Mdludli had obtained a "secret intelligence report detailing extensive allegations of corruption against Cele".
The document stated that a group of "anti-Zuma" members, called the "Mvela Group", met in Estcourt in January where they allegedly plotted Zuma's ousting.
It said, a few days thereafter, revelations appeared in the media that Zuma had fathered a child out of wedlock with the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza, Sonono.
Mthembu said the "so-called plot meeting" on January 23, 2011, did not take place as the alleged plotters were not in KwaZulu-Natal at the time.
The Sunday Independent report, however, did not stipulate whether the meeting had taken place in 2011.
Mthembu also said it was a "known fact" that Sexwale had "publicly endorsed" Zuma for a second term.
"We also find it very strange that the said newspaper and others... never even asked these leaders of the ANC whether they did attend such a meeting.
"Instead they rushed to print the article without canvassing their side of the story, which goes against the grain of objective journalism.
"We also find it very crude and suspicious that the said newspaper will rely on people who are facing serious charges for wrongdoing.
"At any rate, such a report without corroboration from a credible source or another intelligence arm raises doubt on its credibility. We find it strange that a division that is responsible for crime intelligence ends up 'investigating' a purely political matter that has no crime connotation or intention.
"This constitutes a mandate drift in the highest order and in itself it needs to be investigated," Mthembu said.
Justice Minister and ANC head of policy Jeff Radebe, on Monday also distanced himself from the alleged plot.
"I am neither aware of any such plot nor do I know of any group whose mission it is to work towards ousting President Zuma at the next ANC conference," Radebe said in a statement issued by his spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
"I consider these allegations spurious and malicious."
Radebe said he had never been to a meeting "secret or not" in Estcourt.
The report said Sexwale led a group of ANC leaders, including Radebe, who wanted to prevent Zuma from serving a second term at the helm of the ruling party.
Other ANC leaders included KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa, ANC NEC member and former ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile, ANC deputy secretary general Thandi Modise, and NEC members David Mabuza, Enoch Gondongwana and Tony Yengeni, it said.