The assault on President Jacob Zuma’s leadership at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting is set to continue today with his supporters confident they will “see off” his detractors.
The marathon meeting, according to sources, is now turning in favour of Zuma. “The response to the motion is now very much in favour of the president,” a source said.
However, another source described the discussions as “robust but fruitful” and finality to the debate was expected today.
Sources said Zuma and his supporters were surprised by the motion of no confidence and left scrambling by a group of NEC members led by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Zuma supporters on the NEC who were not at the meeting were summoned to lend their support.
The motion proposed by Hanekom was backed by some of his Cabinet colleagues. This has left Zuma with no choice but to give them the boot.
One source said that the continued presence of ministers in the Cabinet who did not trust their president could possibly create a situation of paralysis in the government.
“How can the president trust ministers in the execution of our government’s policies? This move is the one that broke the camel’s back. The motion was not even on the NEC’s agenda. The president must act and he must act now,” the source said.
Another source reminded those NEC members who wanted to remove Zuma of his grassroots support and was worried about the impact of his removal.
“These comrades are reckless. The president was elected by the membership of the ANC. This membership are watching developments closely.
“I am not sure whether those who want him removed will be able to deal with the backlash. This is going to tear the movement apart.”
Ministers who supported Hanekom and who could face the axe include Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, his deputy, Joe Phaahla, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Post and Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
ANC Gauteng provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile, chief whip Jackson Mthembu and economic transformation committee chair Enoch Godongwana also supported the motion.
According to the sources, Zuma was presenting his political report and was speaking of defending the national democratic revolution when he was interrupted by Hanekom.
A third source said that the ongoing factionalism and attempts to blame Zuma for all the ANC’s problems has pushed the organisation to breaking point.
“I am not a factionalist and put the interests of the movement above everything else. However, I do concede that comrade JZ has made some serious mistakes. However, to blame him for all the problems is disingenuous. Many of the comrades who put him into power in Polokwane are the very same ones who are knifing him. We must question their agenda,” the source said.
On Friday, the ANC had a second meeting with some of the party’s disgruntled stalwarts and veterans.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirmed to the SABC that the veterans’ call for a consultative conference now formed part of the party’s policy conference in June next year.