President faces fresh attack at NEC meeting

2017-05-28 06:00
Baleka Mbete, President Jacob Zuma and Zweli Mkize

Baleka Mbete, President Jacob Zuma and Zweli Mkize

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President Jacob Zuma was again battling to hold on to office last night as a fresh motion of no confidence was tabled against him.

The motion was proposed by ANC strategist Joel Netshitenzhe on the second day of the national executive committee (NEC) meeting held in Irene, Pretoria.

The motion was still being debated when City Press went to print last night.

This is the second motion against Zuma in the NEC after the last one tabled by former tourism minister Derek Hanekom was defeated. Hanekom has since been fired by Zuma.

One of the biggest outcomes of the meeting is an expected decision that members and branches of the ANC are now free to discuss the names of leaders they want to elect at the party’s December conference after the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting this weekend.

Yesterday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirmed that discussions would be opened up.

“We are not opening contestation, but we are going into phase two. That is what we are proposing. Phase two is not nominations. It allows structures of the ANC to discuss names and link names to the principles [leadership qualities required]. That is what we are proposing, but the nominations will be in September. That stands. We have opened it up for the discussion of principles; you must be allowed to talk about a name and discuss names,” said Mantashe.

This NEC meeting was highly anticipated as it is the first since President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, which was swiftly followed by the country’s economic downgrade to junk status. Zuma was once again expected to come under pressure, following a failed motion to remove him at the last NEC meeting.

Zuma’s backers spent the whole of Thursday on a farm near St George in Irene where they lobbied NEC members to rally behind him in the event that a no confidence motion arose.

The NEC was also expected to take a decision on the furore around Eskom chief executive officer Brian Molefe and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

ANC veterans had called for the NEC meeting to take a decision to remove people from government who are implicated in the state capture.

Zuma and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba are central figures in the state capture report released by academics and civil society organisations.

Open contestation for leadership positions is intended to arrest what is fast becoming “a dirty war” in which the media and state machinery were being used to undermine opponents, City Press has learnt. The move is also likely to quell tensions as lobbyists for aspiring candidates had been complaining about covert campaign platforms such as lectures and cadres’ forums being used.

The next national conference is scheduled for December in Johannesburg, where Zuma is expected to step down as ANC president.

“We are opening discussion of names this weekend, but not the nominations. Just the discussion of names,” an NEC member told City Press this week.

He said the party was not concerned that the debate would overshadow the upcoming national policy conference at the beginning of July.

“[In fact], the way we are doing it now will disrupt it,” he said, referring to the chaotic manner in which the lobbying has unfolded behind the scenes, with supporters of various candidates accusing one another of breaching the instruction not to campaign.

The ANC’s position was that “policy must determine leaders, but principles must determine the quality of leaders [and] the names need to be tested against these principles”. The opening for nominations has been scheduled for September.

This week, Luthuli House sent a delegation to meet ratings agencies Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s to discuss the country’s future.

Those close to the process said Moody’s was “likely to keep us above sub-investment”. However, Standard & Poor’s remained “hostile”.

The agencies also viewed government’s handling of Eskom and Molefe’s return as “scandalous,” which may further drag the country down to a new level of junk status.

“The worst thing is this Molefe issue. The minister is [being] told what to do and the only way to solve [the problem] is to remove the minister. She must go,” ANC insiders told City Press.

An insider said the party would not be waiting for the courts to pronounce on the messy case – in which both Eskom and Brown had flip-flopped about the reasons behind Molefe’s return – citing resignation, early retirement, retrenchment and, most recently, unpaid leave.

Molefe had taken employment as an ANC MP after leaving Eskom in January – following his announcement last November that he would resign in the interest of protecting Eskom’s reputation.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa on Tuesday said the handling of the Eskom matter “amounted to perjury” and both government and Parliament should “act decisively to deal with this irrational and untenable situation”.

The ANC in Gauteng had earlier this week called for Molefe’s reinstatement to be reversed, describing it as “unfortunate and reckless”.

“These are some of the actions that erode public confidence in the ANC. Swift, corrective action needs to be taken on this matter as per the directive of the ANC leadership,” provincial secretary Hope Papo said.

Read more on:    president jacob zuma  |  anc

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