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‘Hands Off Jacob Zuma’ campaign intensifies

By Ranjeni Munusamy / The Dawn.

 

13/01/2017. ANC supporters during the ANC 106 birthday celebrations at ABSA Stadium in East London.
Picture: Masi Losi
The Zuma conundrum splits the ANC, but who holds the key?
By Ranjeni Munusamy / Source:  TimesLive / February 1, 2018
There is serious discord brewing in the newly elected ANC leadership, not only over the future of President Jacob Zuma but who serves as the heads of the party’s key committees for the next five years.
While the ANC’s top officials have publicly contradicted each other on whether Zuma will leave office early, the newly elected national working committee is unable to reach agreement on some of the chairs of subcommittees.
At its first meeting on Monday, the 20-member NWC together with the top six officials had to decide on a new national spokesperson and the chairs of its subcommittees.
Two of these positions are now being contested and they will have to be decided at the next national executive committee meeting.
This comes at a time when the ANC is under increasing pressure about whether Zuma should deliver the State of the Nation Address next week.
Former Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lobbyist Pule Mabe, who resigned as an ANC MP last year, has been proposed for the position of ANC spokesperson.
This will be a surprise if the appointment is confirmed, with one of Zuma’s defenders as the voice of the party even though the NWC and NEC are weighted in favour of the Cyril Ramaphosa faction.
Enoch Godongwana, Nomvula Mokonyane and Nathi Mthethwa seemed set to remain in their positions as the heads of economic transformation, elections and political education respectively.
Tony Yengeni has been proposed to chair the peace and stability subcommittee and Jeff Radebe is touted to be the new chairperson of the national disciplinary committee in place of Derek Hanekom.
The two positions that are contested are Zizi Kodwa for the head of the communications subcommittee and Fikile Mbalula to retain his position as head of organisation building and campaigns.
The dispute over positions reflects that the organisation is still hamstrung over factional divides with the leadership corps elected in December struggling to coalesce.
This is clearly evident in the mixed messaging over Zuma’s future and different interpretations of the outcome of an NEC meeting two weeks ago.
While there was general consensus at that meeting that Zuma’s continued presence in government would negatively impact on the ANC’s standing ahead of next year’s elections, the NEC did not decide on an immediate recall.
Instead the committee left it to the top six officials to discuss the matter with Zuma and “manage” his departure from office.
Ramaphosa has been bullish on the issue, particularly during interviews at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, sending out strong indicators that Zuma was on his way out.
But he has been contradicted by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, both of whom maintain that Zuma would see out his term.
“It’s only factional leaders who want to be populist who want him (Zuma) gone,” Magashule said at an ANC Youth League event in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Duarte said in an interview that Ramaphosa might have been expressing his personal views when he told the BBC that Zuma was “anxious” about his future.
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe has said that the officials would meet Zuma to discuss “options” to avoid him being impeached or voted out in a motion of no confidence in parliament.
The ANC missed the opportunity to have Ramaphosa take charge of the government programme of action by executing what it calls “leadership transition” ahead of the cabinet lekgotla currently underway in Pretoria. The lekgotla sets the mandate of the Sona, which is scheduled to take place on February 8.
The ANC missed the opportunity to have Ramaphosa take charge ahead of the cabinet lekgotla.
The event is likely to be mired in controversy again with the Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance leaders both writing to Speaker Baleka Mbete requesting that she postpone the Sona.
EFF leader Julius Malema said in his letter to Mbete that another motion of no confidence against Zuma should be scheduled before the Sona in light of “serious political developments and court judgments”, as well as possible impeachment proceedings and the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.
“The suitability of Mr Jacob Zuma to continue in the office of president is more of an urgent question now than a Sona to be delivered by an incumbent who is on the verge of commissions and trials,” Malema said. He said Mbete’s failure to reschedule parliament would prompt the EFF to raise the issue during the Sona.
In his letter to Mbete, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the Sona should be postponed until parliament is able to elect a new president.
“As things stand, it would not be in the best interests of South Africa for President Zuma to deliver the St
ate of the Nation Address when there exists great uncertainty as to whether he will remain President, and if so, for how long.”
Maimane said parliament had already opened for business and did not require the Sona to do its work.
With the current discord at the highest levels of the ANC, it is unlikely that the Zuma conundrum will be resolved before the Sona. This sets the scene for another turbulent Opening of Parliament and egg on the face of the ANC leadership.
‘Hands Off Jacob Zuma’ campaign intensifies
Neo Goba, TimesLive, 1 February 2018 – 18:57
As pressure mounts for President Jacob Zuma to vacate the Union Buildings in Pretoria‚ the South African Unemployed Workers Union and other organisations have instituted a “Hands Off Jacob Zuma” campaign in his defence.
Speaking on Steven Grootes’ Afternoon Drive Show on Radio 702 on Thursday‚ SAUWU President Jabu Ntusi said Zuma should be left to run the country until his term of office ends in 2019.
“The campaign’s message is simple: hands off Jacob Zuma. Jacob Zuma was elected by the people so we are saying ‘hands off’. When he was given a mandate by the people‚ he was told he would serve two terms [so] his term will end in 2019‚ non-negotiable‚” said Ntusi.
He said Zuma should remain the head of state not because he won the 2014 elections‚ but because that was the mandate given to him by the people.
“If the organisation wanted Zuma out‚ we wouldn’t be divided on the matter.. we don’t want our organisation to be tattered… these things of recallment… we do not except because they are tarnishing our organisation as well in terms of votes‚” said Ntusi.
“You leave comrade Jacob Zuma to lead until 2019 and after 2019 the next [successor] takes over. It’s not in the interest of South Africa to get rid of President Jacob Zuma‚ it is in the interest of certain people who are collaborating with white monopoly capital… that’s how we view it. All we are saying is that ‘No‚ we can’t approve this one this time around’‚” he added.
Ntusi‚ who will hold a media briefing in Marshalltown‚ Johannesburg‚ on Friday to discuss further details of their planned “Hands Off President Zuma” march and memorandum which will be delivered to the ANC among others‚ said the campaign had the support from the National Taxi Alliance‚ Qina Mshayeli‚ Ex-Mine Workers‚ Black First Land First (BLF) and the MK Inkululeko Foundation‚ to name a few.
He said they have applied to march to the ANC’s headquarters on Monday‚ to formally hand over a memorandum to the party’s secretary general‚ Ace Magashule.
“If the country is going to change‚ the new leader will have his term in office and he can do the changes. What we are saying [is that] there is no pressure‚ what are you rushing for?.. why do you want Zuma to be removed now before 2019?” asked Jabu.
TimesLIVE understands that the ANC’s national working committee decided that Zuma‚ must leave office by next week.
Sources within the 20-member NWC who attended its meeting on Monday said members agreed that Zuma should not be allowed to deliver the State of the Nation Address on February 8.
Meanwhile in parliament‚ opposition parties have said it would be in the best interests of South Africa if he does not deliver it.
In terms of the constitution‚ Zuma cannot be impeached between now and February 8‚ but a vote of no confidence can take place before then.
How the ANC can oust Zuma this month
Vukani Mde, Mail & Guardian, 2 February 2018

There can be very little doubt now that momentum is building inside the ANC for President Jacob Zuma to vacate office as soon as possible. The reasons the ANC needs this to happen — and to happen quickly — are obvious. The longer Zuma stays in office and in the public eye, and the closer the country gets to the polls, the more the ANC bleeds.
If you are not yet inclined to believe the leaks from within official party meetings, the cryptic official statements and interviews, and media briefings that mask as much as they reveal, then you should pay heed to the counter-offensive from the president’s defenders.
Over the past weekend, the two dependable Zuma allies among the party’s officials came out in defence of the man who increasingly looks like a vulnerable lame duck. Secretary general Ace Magashule, speaking at a party event in KwaZulu-Natal, threw thinly veiled barbs at new party president Cyril Ramaphosa and assured a Zuma-supporting crowd that “their ANC” was not lost forever and could be regained at the party’s next elective conference in five years’ time.
His deputy, Jessie Duarte, told City Press that Zuma was “going nowhere” until his term of office ends in 2019, an untenable prospect for the ruling party. The interview was calculated as a direct contradiction of Ramaphosa’s stated view that the party was carefully managing the “transition” — a term that can only be understood to mean Zuma exiting the stage. In fact, Duarte made a pointed attempt to clip Ramaphosa’s wings, saying that he was “expressing his own personal view” when he told the BBC that Zuma was “anxious” about his future.
These co-ordinated Zuma defence manoeuvres are an obvious response to what is now clear for all to see: the resistance is waning, and fewer and fewer members of the party’s top structures are prepared to stand up for the notion that Zuma should remain in office for any length of time. Indeed, processes quite outside the control of the party leadership may make that impossible anyway.
Zuma’s future arose as an item of discussion at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla last month, a fact Magashule and Duarte admitted in a post-NEC media briefing. Both were at pains at that briefing to emphasise that the meeting did not hold any discussion about Zuma’s departure but merely agreed that the officials should drive closer “co-ordination” between the new ANC leadership and the government.
They were not wrong, but only in the sense that someone who tells you half the story is right. The NEC never held any lengthy discussion about Zuma’s future simply because it didn’t prove necessary. Even among his remaining allies, few rose up to argue for him to complete his term. What counter-arguments they could muster focused on timing and the modalities of the exit, and the now-familiar refrain about “not embarrassing or humiliating the president”.
When the NEC directed the officials to manage the process, it was essentially instructing them to preside over an orderly exit. But the ANC is in danger of not getting this outcome, as events overtake the best-laid plans.
There are now a few ways in which they can manage Zuma’s exit from the political stage, and any of them are likely to result in his departure by end of February.
‘Closer co-ordination’
This is the option heavily favoured by many in the ANC’s new leadership. This euphemism neatly allows all sides to agree — at least in public — on what the ANC has decided, without having to fight over interpretation. It is obvious that Ramaphosa’s understanding of what closer co-ordination between the ANC and government means would differ markedly from Duarte’s.
But it is clear from the outcomes of the NEC lekgotla, not to mention the statement issued after the first meeting of the national working committee, that the party expects Ramaphosa to manage Zuma out of the Union Buildings in a quick, orderly manner — hopefully ahead of the State of the Nation address (Sona) on February 8.
Zuma and Ramaphosa are due to meet again as part of their regular “closer co-ordination” schedule on February 6, just two days before Sona. If the ANC leaves it until then to ask the president not to deliver the Sona, the party will probably have left it too late. Zuma will refuse and will dare the party to come after him in Parliament.
There may be a reprieve for both parties in the form of attempts by the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to postpone Sona to consider a fresh motion of no confidence in the president. Such a postponement, even for a week, would allow Ramaphosa and the ANC valuable extra time to talk to Zuma and, perhaps, grant whatever assurances the latter needs to agree to a quiet exit.
The most important assurances, at least from Zuma’s perspective, would be some kind of stay of prosecution on the 2007 corruption charges, and a deal that saves his son Duduzane, who is alleged to be one of the key players in the state capture saga.
‘One last humiliation’
If the Sona is not pushed back, or if Zuma refuses to go regardless of when it takes place, then the EFF option goes into play. We are all familiar with the embarrassing spectacle Sona has become since 2014. Many in the NEC are quite prepared to see it happen one more time. The idea is that the NEC would then be able to tell him the ANC can’t afford any more of those as it gears up for the 2019 elections, and he should step down for the sake of saving the party — and himself — any more embarrassment. Whether Zuma is sensitive to this sort of logic is doubtful though, and the EFF option has a second act to it, which has already been activated.
‘Nine’s the lucky charm’
Opposition parties have placed seven motions of no confidence (plus one motion to impeach) in the president during his time in office, including one that was conducted by secret ballot and was backed by a number of ANC MPs. The EFF has written to the speaker to schedule an eighth no-confidence debate ahead of the Sona. It will be the first that Zuma will have to ride out without the support of the party’s national executive. There is talk now inside the NEC that perhaps the party should allow its MPs to vote how they see fit on such a motion, leaving Zuma’s fate to an ANC parliamentary caucus that has grown increasingly hostile.
‘Mauled by his own sheep’
National director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams gave the president and his legal team until January 31 to make representations arguing against prosecution on 783 counts of fraud and corruption. With the deadline having been narrowly met, Zuma’s fate — in relation to the law, at least — is now in Abrahams’s hands.
The man widely known as “Shaun the Sheep” — because of his history as a dependable tool of the Zuma cabal in the National Prosecuting Authority — may have played a blinder. By extending the deadline from last November to January, Abrahams has given himself enough time to read and interpret the new political zeitgeist. Making a critical prosecutorial decision on Zuma in mid-December, as the ANC’s conference got under way, would have been tricky. Doing so in mid-February, with Zuma on the back foot and on his way out, is virtually risk-free.
If Abrahams and his team decide they will prosecute, it will be the coup de grace that the anti-Zuma forces — and, frankly, the country — need. It could also be Abrahams’s trump card to save his own skin. A court has already ruled that his appointment to the position was unlawful and put the responsibility for choosing a new prosecutions boss in the hands of Ramaphosa because of Zuma’s conflict of interest. Prosecuting the latter would necessitate an immediate resignation and hand the presidency to the former.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the month, it is highly probable that at least one of the possibilities sketched out above will result in the end of the Zuma presidency before March dawns.
Vukani Mde is a founder and partner at LEFTHOOK, a Johannesburg-based research and strategy consultancy.

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