SA Institute of Race Relations CEO Frans Cronje claims a radical split in the ANC is the probable catalyst of a smear campaign against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan that again raised its head in an unsubstantiated news report over the weekend.
Addressing the Brenthurst and Moneyweb Investment Seminar in Johannesburg yesterday, the think-tank’s head pointed to two distinct forces within the ruling party.
The first grouping, which he referred to as the “left”, comprises national leaders such as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, as well as influential groups such as the ANC in Gauteng, most members of parliament, urban ANC councillors, National Treasury and the SA Communist Party (SACP). Gordhan falls into this group.
The second faction, dubbed the “rural barons”, is led by President Jacob Zuma and propped up by several ANC party heavyweights, comprising ANC officials in rural and outlier regions, such as North West, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
Under the influence of the Zuma-led group, Cronje advanced, were the country’s defence, police and state security forces, as well as state institutions such as the SABC, the Independent Electoral Commission and the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
The ANC’s women, youth and veterans leagues were also among those considered loyal to Zuma.
“The ANC is split in two. Gordhan is using the National Treasury to fight corrupt financiers, and they’re using security forces to fight Gordhan,” Cronje said.
“The ANC can’t afford this type of dynamic going into the upcoming municipal election.”
His comments come days after a newspaper report about the allegedly imminent arrest of Gordhan and eight others by the Hawks for allegedly spying on taxpayers during Gordhan’s tenure as Sars commissioner.
The finance minister has defended himself against these claims, stating that ulterior motives and “subversion” are behind efforts to have him arrested. He maintains his complete innocence and has asked the people of South Africa to protect him.
Cronje’s theory on the two ANC camps throws comments made by ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa into a new light.
Kodwa yesterday dismissed reports that Gordhan was to be arrested and blamed the rumours on forces attempting to undermine government and destabilise the economy ahead of a ratings review next week.
But Cronje’s comments seem to suggest that these “forces” may reside within the ruling party, rather than being part of external interests, as Kodwa suggests.
Yesterday, the SACP came out in support of Gordhan, accusing Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza of using the unit to pursue “politically motivated, factional and private agendas”.
The party warned that the use of state institutions to settle political scores would breed anarchy in the country.
“Cloning such agendas as if they were the law taking its course, abusing state power to pursue them, is unacceptable,” SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said.
“Once the incumbents are seen as a law unto themselves, this will engender similar behaviour in our society and breed anarchy.”
In response, Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said his unit was not a political party.
“We are not going to be drawn into petty politics.”