Who are the president's handlers? - Carolus

2017-04-04 19:06
ANC stalwarts attend at a media briefing in Johannesburg. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

ANC stalwarts attend at a media briefing in Johannesburg. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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Johannesburg - Who are the president's handlers?

This was the question posed by African National Congress stalwarts, as they expressed shock over President Jacob Zuma's recent Cabinet reshuffle, and appealing to the party to recall him.

More than 100 veterans of the governing party - which included former ministers, heads of diplomatic missions and the two remaining Rivonia Trialists - have joined in the call for Zuma to be removed.

Their call comes on the back of a resolution by trade union federation Cosatu and the SACP, that Zuma step down. Opposition parties, civic organisations and religious leaders have also echoed similar sentiments.

Different members of the stalwarts group slammed Zuma for his handling of the reshuffle, to failing to show compassion over the death of ANC anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada. Kathrada also called for Zuma to step down prior to his death.

He wrote a letter to Zuma to this effect in 2016, but never received a response.

"The president of this country, who was put there by the ANC, is a law unto himself," said former ANC deputy secretary general Cheryl Carolus.

She told journalists, at a media briefing held by the stalwarts, that Zuma had crossed the line twice this year, in a way the stalwarts never thought possible.

Carolus criticised the president for going ahead with a Cabinet meeting on the day of Kathrada's funeral and failing to reach out to the family over the icon's passing. She said his actions were "breathtakingly shocking and careless".

Aimed at humiliation

There was also lots of criticism over Zuma's handling of the reshuffle, with Carolus complaining that the way Zuma recalled former finance minister Pravin Gordhan from a UK investment roadshow was aimed at inflicting maximum humiliation on him.

"For us, this president has actually decided to take the role of the president... as one totally delinked and in defiance of his organisation and the Constitutional Court and Parliament," said Carolus.

Speaking on Kathrada's death, Reverend Frank Chikane said Zuma's approach to the tragic loss showed that the country was in crisis.

He decried the government's decision to postpone an official memorial, which was set to take place last Saturday.

Chikane said it was as if the Kathrada family was being asked to postpone their mourning. The family went ahead with the memorial, with the backing of the SACP and the ANC in Gauteng.

"The reshuffling of Cabinet worsened the situation, in that it was as if the business of government was more important than what that generation was going through," said Chikane.

The stalwarts took four decisions from the meeting they held ahead of the media briefing, central to which was a plea to the ANC to recall President Jacob Zuma.

"The stalwarts and veterans this morning were... unanimous in coming to the view that we align ourselves, primarily with the spirit and content and message that Ahmed Kathrada had left," Murphy Morobe read out.

'Poisoning the country'

"There is something terribly wrong in the ANC, which is poisoning the country," he continued.

Although the former leaders of the governing party had confirmed that they felt undermined and that they were not taken seriously by some in the ANC, they would continue working toward a national consultative conference.

They also told journalists that the work toward provincial consultative conferences had begun, as some provincial structures in the liberation movement had shown interest in the organisational renewal task as presented by the stalwarts.

Carolus continued in her criticism of Zuma's handling of the reshuffle. She said the expectation was that he would be held to the same high standards of accountability as his predecessors.

"Who are the president's handlers?" she asked.

She said Zuma had crossed the line, and he believed he could act with impunity.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  ahmed kathrada

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