‘It’s become untenable’: Major union Nehawu joins calls for Zuma to quit

 Under fire: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Elmond Jiyane
Under fire: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Elmond Jiyane

Cosatu’s biggest affiliate has called on President Jacob Zuma to resign in the interest of the country.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has boldly called for Zuma to go, and has urged the ANC to ensure that he doesn’t last until the end of his presidential term in 2019 – which is the year the country goes to national polls.

Fed up with Zuma’s leadership – which has been mired in controversy; moving from crisis to crisis – Nehawu’s leadership has explicitly called on the ANC to unite behind deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa becoming caretaker president.

The unions was among the majority of Cosatu affiliates that want Ramaphosa to take over from Zuma.

“Nehawu calls on Zuma to take the honourable and courageous decision in the interest of the ANC and our people by resigning as the president of South Africa. So that by the time the ANC contests the 2019 general elections he will be neither state or president of the ANC,” it said in a statement following its national executive committee meeting.

“Everything considered, including the deepening socioeconomic crisis, lack of strategic oversight and leadership in government, declining hope among our people and the ever swirling scandalous revelations of corruption, the national executive committee has come to the conclusion that it can no longer be denied that the leadership of Zuma in government is now untenable.”

The tide was turning against Zuma, who today fought tooth and nail in court to block the release of what’s believed to be an explosive state capture report finalised by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela before her departure from office two weeks ago.

He is an implicated party in that investigation into allegations that his friends, the Gupta family, offered government officials Cabinet positions in exchange for government tenders and other favours.

Questions have been raised about how two ministers who are trying to interdict the report – Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane – have been influenced by the Guptas, allegations which have been denied.

Meanwhile, Nehawu said it was painfully conscious of the poisoned climate of factional contestation within the ANC that would make it difficult for the ANC to arrive at a broadly supported solution to the current tragic impasse, it expected Zuma to rise to the occasion in the interest of the country.

City Press had previously heard that union bosses had voiced concerns about Zuma leading them to elections in 2019, with proposals that he must be stripped of his presidential title when he relinquishes his position as ANC president at the party’s congress next December.

The union, as part of its own decision to overcome challenges of factionalism and in the interest of unity and cohesion, said it wanted the ANC “to invoke the precedent practice whereby the current deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, would succeed Zuma.”

It highlighted how the party had also gone to local elections in the midst of the socioeconomic crisis affecting millions of poor in the face of rampant corruption and wasteful expenditure by the political elite in government and state-owned companies.

“While we believe that no single individual, even as president of the country, can be solely responsible for all the socioeconomic and political ills in our society and while we appreciate that Zuma has served our struggle well over the years, the organised working class cannot stand idle by and be silent when it is clear that the revolution is taking a disastrous trajectory as it needlessly lurches from crisis to crisis.”

Not long ago, the tripartite alliance, particularly the ANC, was left embarrassed after a damning judgment by the Constitutional Court that Zuma had violated the Constitution and his oath of office over the Nkandla matter. This related to the use of state resources on his private residence of which he was forced to pay back a portion (R7.8 million) of the R246 million spent on his private residence in KwaZulu-Natal.

Nehawu’s statement came a day after the National Prosecuting Authority dropped what had been described as politically motivated charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and three others – a matter which had widened divisions in the tripartite alliance.

Nehawu had also joined a chorus of calls – also echoed by the South African Communist Party – for Abrahams to be relieved of his duties “because of his lack of fitness to hold office”.

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