Former president Jacob Zuma is set to be summoned before the ANC’s top six to explain his recent mysterious meeting with high-profile ANC leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, which has sparked allegations of a plot to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The ANC wants answers on the alleged Maharani Hotel plot meeting last month. Among the details sought is clarity on the coincidence that current and former leaders of the party who had previously lobbied against a Ramaphosa presidency – including secretary-general Ace Magashule – found themselves all in one place at the same time without any prior arrangement.
Luthuli House was at the time neither aware of, nor informed about, any planned meeting involving Magashule, whose position as secretary-general is akin to that of chief executive officer of the governing party.
The high-level probe is to be presided over by Ramaphosa himself as he gradually stamps his authority in the 90-member ANC national executive committee (NEC).
Ramaphosa’s assertion of his authority is in contrast to earlier perceptions and criticism that he was finding it difficult to lead the divided ANC following his election as party leader, which took place in December at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg.
ZUMA AND CO MUST EXPLAIN
Those expected to be summoned before the top six to explain the alleged plot include Zuma, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba and ANC Youth League KwaZulu-Natal leader Thanduxolo Sabelo.
Discussions about the plot were held after inputs by a number of ANC leaders, including former deputy finance minister Sfiso Buthelezi, head of the NEC’s subcommittee on economic transformation Enoch Godongwana and ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala.
An NEC member said most of those attending the meeting wanted the matter to be given serious attention.
“NEC members felt that the matter should be laid to rest; others said there was no need to investigate because the plot to unseat the president was created by the media. It was then resolved that the ANC national officials should probe the allegations and compile a report,” the insider said.
Another NEC member said they viewed the matter in a very serious light. “We are not going to dismiss it. We are expecting the NEC to give us the report in the next NEC meeting.”
City Press has learnt that the veterans’ league leaders told the NEC meeting that the matter was discussed during the league’s national office bearers meeting last Thursday. The league had considered summoning Zuma to appear before them and answer to the allegations, but there was no consensus on the proposal.
Zikalala told City Press this week that allegations of a plot to unseat Ramaphosa were a serious matter.
“This is a very serious matter. It affects the economy and stability of the country. It is important that we sit down with him [Zuma] so that he tells us the truth,” Zikalala said.
He said the veterans’ league was interested in the stability of the ANC and the country.
‘THERE IS NO PLOT’
Buthelezi said it was “unfortunate that there are people who leak NEC meetings to journalists and it is worse when those who leak distort us”.
He then made reference to media reports in the early 2000s regarding a plot against then president Thabo Mbeki, allegedly hatched by Ramaphosa, Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale, saying that even back then he had known that the alleged anti-Mbeki plot was a fabrication.
“I knew there was no such because I was, and continue to be, close to him [Phosa]. That is why I strongly believe that we should not allow faceless people to set an agenda for us. We should focus on winning the elections next year. That is where our energies should be directed.”
Magashule had already denied that he was part of the plot, but the latest move suggests that his explanation has been deemed unsatisfactory.
At the NEC his backers tried unsuccessfully to quash the probe, citing as an example that Ramaphosa himself had previously been accused of a plot to oust Mbeki. The anti-Mbeki allegations were found to be baseless, they said, resulting in the ANC investing too much time in digging for the truth – and, in so doing, further deepening the party’s internal divisions.
However, Ramaphosa’s backers were not persuaded by the argument.
City Press learnt that even some of Zuma’s former supporters in the NEC were among those who came out in support of a thorough probe into the plot allegations.
Repeated attempts to obtain a comment from Godongwana were unsuccessful.
Magashule told the media on Monday that he would not succumb to rumours that he was involved in an alleged plot to oust Ramaphosa, saying it was an attempt to cause a rift.
“Me and comrade Cyril [Ramaphosa], we won’t allow any wedge drivers to come in between us ... we are working together. We are united. We are working. It is progress. We are not focusing on rumours,” he said.
He said that the NEC’s discussions about the situation were intended to “lay this matter to rest” and that the NEC had agreed that ANC officials would discuss the matter and report back.
Magashule described working under Ramaphosa as being always a “pleasure”.
“We agree with the president. This is the time to plot against poverty. This is the time to plot against unemployment and this is the time to plot against divisions.”
RAMAPHOSA STAMPS AUTHORITY
A close ally of Ramaphosa said he had gradually asserted his authority in the NEC. The first example of this was the decision to disband Mahumapelo’s North West ANC executive at the end of August.
An NEC member said Ramaphosa had also taken charge of the expropriation of land without compensation process, wresting it away from those who wanted to use it against him.
The North West featured on the NEC’s agenda in Tshwane last weekend, including a decision that the interim provincial task team be granted executive powers so that it was able to conduct the affairs of the province with the authority similar to that of an elected provincial executive.
“In short, this means that they can do whatever it is that the provincial executive is constitutionally mandated to do,” said the insider, adding that the task team would also take charge of the election list process to identify suitable ANC public representatives after the elections next year.
Mahumapelo’s backers had attacked the task team for “exceeding their powers” following a decision to suspend the powers of two ANC regions in the province, pending an investigation into the existence of parallel structures. The affected regions were Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality in Klerksdorp and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality in Vryburg.
Mahumapelo’s withdrawal from the task team had also been accepted, but Luthuli House was mandated to speak to him further with a view to forging unity.