Polokwane - As one ANC top official has distanced the party from comments made by its newly elected president Cyril Ramaphosa, another has vowed to stand firmly by his side.
It appears as though the ANC’s new leadership collective, which was voted for during the ANC’s 54th national elective conference in December, is already failing at showing a united front.
This is in spite of committing to its supporters and the country to unite and rebuild the organisation.
On one hand, ANC deputy president David "DD" Mabuza spent the weekend affirming his support of Ramaphosa, telling delegates in Modimolle during the ANC’s January 8 birthday celebrations that he would protect the liberation movement’s president.
"The president that you have elected, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa will be supported by all of us. We will rally around him as a leader and are going to walk next to him. He is very safe with me next to him," Mabuza said in Limpopo.
He told thousands of supporters that the party was working hard at uniting the movement, but also reminded them that power resided with the liberation organisation and not in government.
"There is only one centre and that is the ANC," he said.
This echoed what Mabuza said during a fundraising dinner held just outside Polokwane on Saturday evening. He said he would protect the ANC president, and not contradict him.
Ramaphosa expressing 'his own view'
The ANC’s deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, on the other hand, appeared to be singing from a different hymn sheet.
In an interview with News24’s sister publication City Press, she distanced the ANC from comments Ramaphosa made on the BBC’s Hard Talk while in Davos for the World Economic Forum.
The ANC president, who is also the country’s deputy president, when asked about the thorny issue around the head of state President Jacob Zuma's exit from government, said Zuma was anxious and that the matter of him leaving office needed to be handled carefully.
"Well obviously, I mean, any normal human being would be anxious – would be concerned about all this. So he is naturally feeling anxious, and he wants matters to be handled... carefully," Ramaphosa said in the BBC interview.
However, Duarte not only defended Zuma’s legacy, she also said that Zuma’s anxiety was never discussed, insisting the top officials' task, as per the ANC's national executive committee, was to handle the co-ordination between government and the ANC.
"I think the deputy president of the country was probably expressing his own view on the matter, which is fine," Duarte told the City Press.
Duarte said the most recent briefing from Ramaphosa was that he and Zuma would meet every Tuesday "to discuss co-ordination between government and the ANC".
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"Until [Ramaphosa] tells us differently, the only information we have is what we have been given,” she told City Press.
She also dismissed talks of Zuma's removal.
This was as pressure mounts on Ramaphosa to get rid of Zuma, with some in the ANC fearing his protracted stay will cost the political party when South Africans head to the polls in 2019.