The divisions within the ANC NEC were laid bare this afternoon when secretary-general Ace Magashule admitted he was one of the leaders who backed President Jacob Zuma during the deliberations on his recall.
Pressed by media on his own views regarding any wrongdoing on Zuma’s part, Magashule told the media that despite divisions within the NEC they all eventually agreed that Zuma must be recalled to enable a smooth transition of power.
A known ardent supporter of Zuma, Magashule said: “Every member of the ANC is supposed to support the president of the party at the time,” and added the meeting collectively agreed to facilitate Ramaphosa’s ascension to power.
Magashule was at pains to underscore that the meeting between Zuma, party president Cyril Ramaphosa and himself was cordial, as “Zuma is a still a respected leader who played a significant role in the liberation movement”.
The Free State premier said Zuma’s request for an extra three months was because he was the chairperson of regional body SADC, but the NEC was of the view that Ramaphosa should be allowed a “smooth transition” to take over from Zuma.
Magashule rebutted media suggestions that Zuma wanted the extension to ensure that the contentious nuclear deal, estimated to potentially balloon to R3 trillion by Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and which Treasury warned would be unaffordable, is approved. The former Free State ANC chairperson dismissed this as “fake news”.
The response to whether the decision to recall Zuma was cast in stone elicited a convoluted response – Magashule emphasised that the party was resolute on Ramaphosa taking over as the head of state, and as such the ANC would not support the opposition’s call for a motion of no confidence.
The secretary-general backpedalled on the decision itself when he told confused journalists the organisation remained in talks and would be engaging Zuma on his recall. He emphasised he should still be “respected”, as he has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing in a court of law.
He said the party was in agreement on who should deliver the Sona: “It is obvious that we want Ramaphosa to come in as president of the country.” In the interim, the party will finalise the issue of who will deputise Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings.
The elephant in the room, or what the DA has coined JZ783, was sidestepped, with the media being told the party “will deal with that matter”. The SG reiterated the country should appreciate that “by recalling our deployee, it means the ANC has acted”.
And if the man implicated in the state capture allegations on the Vrede dairy project is to be believed, the ruling party remains a dynamic organisation that practises democratic centralism. He said: “Last night, I went with the president to meet President Jacob Zuma, he was still up and very active president, very healthy.”
He conceded the discussions preceding the decision were contentious, and when Zuma was given the news of his firing, he said: “I am a disciplined member of the ANC” in a party “which wants to resolve the issues politically”. The party is not treating Zuma as a leader who is defiant, and in spite of “divergent views”, they will “all move together even if we didn’t agree with the decision”.