Johannesburg - The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has denounced calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down, saying that the subject was the creation of a regime change agenda by those outside of the party, who want to see its destruction.
Addressing the media at Luthuli House on Monday, MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe said the call for Zuma to step down must be avoided by the newly elected national executive committee (NEC).
The NEC, which was elected at the party’s elective conference in December, will hold its first meeting in East London on Wednesday.
Speculation has been rife that top of the NEC’s agenda will be the call for Zuma’s resignation as head of state.
Some within the NEC have told News24 that a task team has been deployed to Zuma’s homestead Nkandla, to discuss his resignation.
"We especially call for unnecessary divisive pressure, with regards to the future of Zuma as president of South Africa, to be avoided," said Maphatsoe, who added that the NEC must deal with calls for Zuma to step down "in a manner that will forge unity and the effective execution of policy”.
"In doing so, there should be no place for personal vendettas and vindictiveness. It is our considered view that Zuma deserves to be acknowledged and respected for the huge contribution that he made in the liberation struggle and for his many decades of dedicated service in the ANC, as well as the people of South Africa…," Maphatsoe said.
During an SABC news interview in January 2017, Zuma commented that, if the president of the ANC was to be a different person to the president of South Africa, it would create two centres of power that could compete.
As such, "you would be saying the president of the ANC must instruct the president of the country and at times, there may be things that happened, [which] the president of the ANC [might be] feeling: 'Look, is it right?'
"So, we generally had an understanding that it would not be good to create two centres," he said during the interview. However, his loyal followers within the MKMVA disagreed with his sentiments, saying that Zuma will take instructions from Luthuli House and essentially, newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Responding to journalists, MKMVA treasurer general Des Van Rooyen said the deployment of the head of state was the responsibility of the ANC collective.
"There is no ambiguity around where is the centre. The centre is the ANC. It has been demonstrated in various cases."
Van Rooyen cited examples of provinces where the premier was not the chair of the party.
The debate around the two centres of power stems from the ANC’s Polokwane elective conference in 2007.
The argument was raised when the then ANC and former president Thabo Mbeki ran for a third term.
It was largely viewed by those within the structures that a separate ANC president and state president would create a separation of power and decisions.
He lost the race against Zuma, causing a split in the ANC.
In his speech at Oliver Tambo’s centenary celebrations in October last year, Mbeki disagreed with the notion.
He said that this resulted in the decision that a person elected as president of the ANC would be the party's candidate for the position of President of the country and that provincial chairs of the party would ascend to provincial premier.