News24

Zuma unfazed by alliance spats

2009-12-14 16:01

Johannesburg - In-fighting among alliance partners is expected to top the agenda of the ANC's last national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Monday, but President Jacob Zuma seems unfazed by the latest squabbles.

He told Talk Radio 702 in an interview on Monday that the objective of the tripartite alliance was to stir debate.

"We've got a country that must accommodate everybody... what has been critical in the alliance is that those debates help us to move forward."

This was the culture of the African National Congress, he said.

"This is actually the very rich culture of the ANC. We don't vote, we debate until we convince one another."

The alliance came under the spotlight again last week when one of its partners, the SA Communist Party held a conference in Polokwane.

Its delegates booed ANC youth leader Julius Malema, who had recently called SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin a "white messiah" in a spat about the nationalisation of mines.

Stormed out

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu would not be drawn on commenting on the agenda for Monday's meeting, but several weekend papers suggested that the Malema-Cronin row would be up for debate.

Sokutu described the topics under discussion as "various organisation renewal issues", saying the NEC would "reflect broadly".

Asked whether Malema would be a topic for discussion, Sokutu would only say: "When talking challenges, we are talking broadly, we are not talking about individuals within the organisation."

Malema stormed out of the SACP conference after the booing.

He was apparently upset that ANC general secretary and NEC member Gwede Mantashe - who is also the chair of the SACP - would not allow him to address the conference during an open session which the media would have been allowed to attend.

Nothing new

On Malema, Zuma said the ANC often "engaged" with him behind closed doors about his controversial remarks in public.

"This is not a new issue. During the days of Peter Mokaba, we had a lot of this, so there is nothing new with Malema.

"He himself has admitted that he needs to be taught... we are talking to him, but not in public."

However, Zuma, who called on all members of the alliance to show "respect, unity and discipline" at the SACP conference on Saturday, condemned the booing again in the radio interview.

"We must not say things that provoke people. You can't also say we should be booing one another.

"Everybody did not behave well," said Zuma, adding: "Politics is not a simple matter to understand."