Recalling President Jacob Zuma will split the ANC and there will be no gains for the ruling party if such a decision is taken at this point, according to political analysts.
There have been renewed calls for Zuma to step down after the ANC suffered massive losses in the recent local government elections. There are also murmurings in political circles that many people are disappointed with the outcome of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend in Irene, Pretoria.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday the ruling party’s NEC had decided the party would collectively shoulder responsibility for its poor election showing and not attribute the drop in support to the waning popularity of its controversial leader.
Reacting to the news, political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said yesterday it would be very difficult to remove the incumbent leader of the party, who is also the president of the country.
“If a person who still has support in the organisation is recalled, he would use that to retaliate,” Fikeni said yesterday.
For the ANC NEC to take collective responsibility for the mishap that happened under their watch was the correct decision, according to Fikeni.
“They could have stopped him but they chose to keep quiet,” he said. “They must work on the organisational renewal all together.”
However, Fikeni said, what was absent from the ANC statements was that the leader takes responsibility personally.
“Leaders lead from the front,” Fikeni said. Political analyst Elvis Masoga said although ANC supporters appeared to have registered a boycott against Zuma in the elections, it would be unwise to get rid of him.
“I don’t think it will be wise for them to dramatically remove Zuma from office,” Masoga said. “They should put a straitjacket on Zuma so that he can no longer do any harm to the ANC.”
Masoga suggested that the ANC should take presidential powers away from Zuma.
“This means that before Zuma makes any big decision, he must consult the ANC,” Masoga said.
He said the ANC was at risk of losing power as long as Zuma remained at the helm of the party.
“Raging corruption and factionalism has become entrenched in the Zuma-led ANC,” he said.
Another analyst, Ralph Mathekga, said removing Zuma would have benefited the ANC if it had been done before the elections.
“The party seems to be willing to go for the long haul to resolve its problems,” Mathekga said. “Zuma seems not to be part of that equation of resolving problems within the ANC.
“He still appears to be strong within the NEC, although there might be a slight appetite for some members to begin to talk frankly about the integrity of the party.”
Mantashe has said the party had the political will and capacity to overcome the challenges and re-energise itself for the tasks ahead.
“The NEC believes that arresting the electoral decline would require the ANC to immediately and courageously embark on bold strategies to re-energise our structures and supporters,” Mantashe said on Sunday.
“This will require us to deal with the perceptions that the ANC is arrogant, self-serving, soft on corruption and increasingly distant from its voter base.”