Zuma is here to stay, says Duarte

2018-01-28 06:00
Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte during an interview with City Press at her home in Observatory. Picture: Leon Sadiki

Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte during an interview with City Press at her home in Observatory. Picture: Leon Sadiki

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ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has insisted that President Jacob Zuma will only step down next year, despite calls for his immediate resignation.

In an interview with City Press on Friday, Duarte defended Zuma’s legacy, and distanced the party’s top six and the national executive committee (NEC) from ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments in Davos, Switzerland, this week that Zuma was “anxious” about his future.

While the ANC NEC meeting last weekend deferred the discussion on Zuma’s exit to the party’s top six, Duarte said the most recent briefing from Ramaphosa was that the two would meet every Tuesday “to discuss coordination between government and the ANC”.

“Until [Ramaphosa] tells us differently, the only information we have is what we have been given,” she said.

This comes amid talk that Ramaphosa wants to take over immediately, leading to questions about whether Zuma will deliver the state of the nation address on February 8.

Duarte has also dismissed talk of a pending shake-up in government, saying they were not part of that conversation.

On Ramaphosa’s comment about Zuma’s anxiety, Duarte said she was not fond of speaking about internal discussions.

However, she added that neither the top six nor the NEC had discussed Zuma’s anxiety.

Ramaphosa made the comment during an interview with UK broadcaster BBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

“I think the deputy president of the country was probably expressing his own view on the matter, which is fine,” said Duarte.

However, she said, it was the end of Zuma’s second term, and “I can imagine every president at the end of their second term would have a level of anxiety about completing the manifesto to which they were elected”.

Duarte said she was aware that some people called her “Zuma’s last line of defence”, but she would stand up for Ramaphosa in the same way if he was attacked.

“I will be Ramaphosa’s last line of defence if you guys [the media] take him on, frankly speaking.

"He is my president and I’m not going to allow him to be denigrated. Why should I allow you guys to denigrate President Zuma?”

She said Zuma had been a victim of speculation and “every time you’ve denigrated him, I look at facts and the denigration and say the dots don’t match”.

“This is one person who has really literally been chased in every possible way. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad, but it’s also our reality.”

Zuma had been a target

Duarte said Zuma had been a target since he was the country’s deputy president in 2004.

“It started off with a relationship he had with Schabir Shaik and that resulted in some 700 possible charges. It grew and grew, and it’s been growing ever since.”

Duarte said Zuma’s character had been analysed, and people had said that “he didn’t go to school, he is a ruralitarian and he doesn’t have the acumen to govern South Africa”.

“And yet rural people have seen the benefits they’ve received by having a person like President Zuma.

"People will tell you that we didn’t have water, but we have water now. There was no road in this village, but we have a road now; we didn’t have transport to go to hospital, but we have one now.”

Duarte further pointed out that Zuma should be given credit for the National Development Plan as it was his initiative.

“It was implemented by him during his time, but when you read our newspapers, you guys are chasing him.”

Duarte warned that Ramaphosa was a media darling now, but “we know that, six or seven months down the line, you are going to go for him as well.

"You are not going to waste much time, you are going to dig up whatever else you can – and it’s not objectivity that you seeking, its sensationalism.”

She said that, like any other human being, Zuma had made mistakes.

“But do those mistakes warrant the hatred that has been impressed upon him? I personally don’t think so. I think that there must be a fairer way of assessing a person’s credibility.”

She fired a salvo at analysts who had pointed fingers at Zuma when the South African economy dipped.

“The economy is not an island economy. [Our] primary income is from commodities [and when] those commodity markets shrink, we shrink.

"Yet your analysts make that President Zuma’s problem. You don’t talk about that fact that mining companies are closing shafts and, as a consequence, there is a domino effect of jobs being lost.”

Duarte said Zuma had repeated that he did not ask for the security upgrades at his home in Nkandla, but the attacks on him didn’t let up.

“He fought at first, but then decided to pay. I do sometimes wonder if we are really living in the real world.”

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  jessie duarte  |  cyril ramaphosa

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