ANC: ‘Zuma’s mess is our mess’

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Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule

Tito Mboweni in hot water as Luthuli House blasts him for ‘nine wasted years’ comment

Luthuli House has criticised Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for saying that South Africa was turning over a new leaf after “nine wasted years” under former president Jacob Zuma.

City Press has learnt that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule told Mboweni to “calm down” and allow the party space to continue with its election campaign.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa has voiced similar sentiments, “there are no issues with Ramaphosa, he was not specific. Tito was out of order,” said an insider.

The ANC’s top six officials were expected to discuss, among other things, public spats among party leaders during a meeting on Monday.

Acting ANC national spokesperson Dakota Legoete said Mboweni’s remarks were regrettable and it was wrong to blame Zuma for the ANC-led government’s mistakes.

“It was nine years of an ANC-led government. It is highly regrettable that a narrative is created that there were nine years that are apportioned to an individual, when, actually, we are a collective in the ANC,” Legoete told City Press.

“It is like what the apartheid regime tried to do to project Madiba [former president Nelson Mandela] outside the ANC and project the ANC outside Madiba. That particular history is also repeating itself now – where a president would be projected outside his organisation.”

When approached for comment, Mboweni would only say: “The ANC has pronounced on this. That is the party line.”

Legoete said Zuma was democratically elected to lead the ANC in 2007, and implemented the manifesto and plans of the ANC after he became president in 2009, citing the National Development Plan as an example.

“In our current manifesto, we are characterising the 25 years of the ANC-led government as having the good and the bad.”

Despite the fact that the ANC-led government has delivered, Legoete said, there were instances where the ANC acknowledged its failures and owned up to them, including the supposed nine wasted years.

Legoete said Ramaphosa served as the deputy president under Zuma, adding that to single Zuma out was to undermine the party’s collective responsibility.

“More than 80% of the current sitting leadership was there in that term. It is like others were sleeping while Zuma was doing what he wanted. Leaders must refrain from attacking one another on social media because that does very serious harm to the ANC brand.”

Legoete said government performance over the past nine years could not be attributed to one individual.

“We are prepared to learn from our hard lessons and we are in the process of self-correction. As part of renewal, bad things that were done before must not be repeated. We are clear that we are going to intensify our fight against corruption and mediocrity.”

Further divisions in the party were laid bare last weekend when ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula slammed Zuma on Twitter for attending the annual Kgosi Mampuru II Commemoration Day at the Try Again Sports Ground in Limpopo.

Zuma’s appearance at the event, which was an official government gathering, was seen as a breach of protocol.

“You see, there are official events to inaugurate the king,” Mbalula said on Tuesday. “You cannot go to the state of the nation address and Matamela [Ramaphosa] is not there and you have Mbeki [former president Thabo Mbeki] addressing [the nation]. I know it is an exaggerated example. It is not an attack on the integrity of anybody.”

In an interview with online news site Africa News 24-7 last week, Zuma attacked Mboweni and his detractors in the ANC.

“It does not make the ANC look good. If you criticise, indirectly or directly, Zuma’s nine years, you are also criticising the ANC’s nine years. If you want to kill a snake, hit it on the head. If you attack the leader, you are indirectly attacking the ANC,” he said.

The ANC in Gauteng, Zuma said, committed the same mistake before the 2016 municipal elections and lost two metros.

“If some in the province attack their own president, why should people think we should vote for the ANC, which has a useless kind of president?” he asked.

“They were putting [forward] problems of the leader and there were no problems. We lost two metros, but people still think we lost because of Zuma.”

The former president said the present ANC was repeating the same mistake, and that was why he was worried: “They are actually saying the last nine years of ANC government were wasted.”

Zuma said he saved millions of people who were dying because of HIV/Aids, and that life expectancy went up and the world was awestruck.

He added that there was no National Development Plan before him and education improved; South Africa was like a big construction site with R1 trillion spent on infrastructure. He also found an economy in the ocean.

“Why should a leader say this was a wasted thing and we are now busy cleaning this mess? I think it is dishonest. [It is] political dishonesty, but also it is something that I do not understand.”

Referring to when he stepped down in February last year, Zuma said: “I’m not bitter. I do not get bitter by any means and I’m not a bitter man. I have never been a bitter man.”

He said he was principled and, “if there are wrong things done, [I] find a way to correct them. And I do not deal with individuals. I deal in the ANC; with the ANC as an organisation.”


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