Zuma surviving, but the ANC is not – Mchunu

2017-05-07 07:02
Former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu (Siyanda Mayeza, City Press)

Former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu (Siyanda Mayeza, City Press)

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Former KwaZulu-Natal premier and ANC chairperson Senzo Mchunu believes that the denial of the current crisis by President Jacob Zuma and his supporters is at the centre of the ANC’s problems.

“The situation is bad. The president is explaining his own brand of democracy, saying that the booing was part of democracy, that it is normal. That doesn’t happen anywhere in the world that you get booed and you say that is normal,” he said.

He asserted that the ANC needed to go beyond the “politics of the stomach” at its December national conference if it is to avoid being reduced to a “revolutionary movement in name only”.

Mchunu, whose recent public appearances are seen as an endorsement of a run for the ANC presidency by current Deputy President Cyril Rampahosa, and who has been touted as a potential ANC secretary-general on a Ramaphosa slate, also believes the ANC will lose power if it continues on its current “downward trajectory”.

Mchunu – whose defeat at the provincial conference is the subject of a high court application by the branches who backed him, and who may be given a second bite at the cake when it is heard in August – also believes that the party has been split into two opposing blocs, one focusing on Zuma’s survival and the other on “concerns” over corruption and organisational collapse.

Dressed in a grey work shirt, cargo pants and boots, Mchunu, who farms livestock, along with peppers, cabbage and beans, made the comments in an interview with City Press at his home in Empangeni on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.

Mchunu said the Zuma-led bloc in the ANC, which wanted to elect former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in December, believed that “everything is normal, there is no crisis, no problem”.

The other bloc, which he clearly identified with, was constituted of “people who are concerned when they see the underperformance”.

Mchunu said that, while Zuma may have “been popular in the past”, the situation had changed to a point “where he now depends more and more on the ANC rather than the ANC depending on him”, Mchunu said.

Apart from accompanying Rampahosa to the Nazareth Baptist Church and to a Chris Hani memorial in Newcastle last week, Mchunu was cheered at the Cosatu May Day rally he attended in Durban, where ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete were booed.

While he acknowledges that the appearances have made an impact, Mchunu said that he had remained a community and ANC activist since his dismissal, taking up issues at Empangeni and Hlabisa, where his family home is.

He has also been acting on behalf of tenant farmers at Normandien near Newcastle, who have had more than 100 heads of cattle impounded by white farmers.

Mchunu, who is a member of the ward 23 ANC branch at Empangeni, said that he had refused to take up a seat in the National Assembly after his removal as this would have been an act of hypocrisy.

“I’m not saying that I’m the best in the ANC, but I do make an effort, otherwise I would have gone to the National Assembly after I was fired.

“I didn’t go there because I felt, why act in a hypocritical way? You can’t say a person is bad and must be fired today and tomorrow you stand up in Parliament and all of a sudden you are an ‘honourable member’, like we are doing with [former Eskom chairperson Brian] Molefe. I couldn’t see that happening to me,” he said.

Describing himself as “part of the contingent that is outside of government”, Mchunu said he had attended the Hani memorial in Newcastle – home of the Emalahleni region, which backed him at the conference and was subsequently placed under administration by the province – “to hear what the deputy president had to say”.

While the appearances were a clear endorsement of a Rampahosa presidential campaign, Mchunu played down their significance, but said they would continue and increase in number after the ANC policy conference when people started campaigning openly.

“Once nominations are open, I will start talking more. There will be more activities, especially around people expressing their choices, more than we are seeing now.”

Turning to the booing of Zuma on May Day, Mchunu said that not only Cosatu should be blamed.

“He went there and we know what happened. Do we blame Cosatu? I don’t think so. We are the leader of the alliance.

“I don’t think we are going to last, except in name. Zuma is surviving, but I don’t think the ANC is surviving. That’s the reality.”

Turning to the court challenge to his narrow defeat at the conference, Mchunu said the case brought by the branches was a “serious” one.

The ANC provincial leadership’s legal team, which has been changed during the case, has till the end of May to file answering affidavits, ahead of the August hearing.

Should the branches succeed, the conference will be held again.

Asked if he would accept a nomination, Mchunu said, he would “cross that bridge when we get there” and that what would happen depended on how “the people themselves respond to the process”.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  senzo mchunu

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