ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has hit back at ANC veteran and former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, saying Phosa has sour grapes now in the wake of his former ambitions to lead the ANC.
“He was part of Jacob Zuma’s national executive committee and he decided to form something that contested [against Zuma],” Mantashe told The Citizen yesterday.
“He wanted to be a deputy president and did not win. By implication, what it means is that unless it is him who leads the ANC, there is no ANC.”
Phosa had told The Citizen in an exclusive interview this week that unless Zuma stepped down, the ruling party could lose power or be forced into “huge coalitions” for the 2019 general elections.
He said the ruling party was facing its worst crisis and losing power.
“It has lost power dramatically at local government level,” Phosa said. “It will continue to lose power even at national level. The trust of the people that was built over 104 years has been lost.”
Phosa contested the position of deputy president and was defeated by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in Mangaung in 2012.
He also supported former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe’s bid to unseat Zuma as party president.
Mantashe said the ANC had the ANC Veterans’ League and any other view expressed by any veteran was a “personal view”. Phosa, meanwhile, hinted at the possibility of making a political comeback.
Asked if he thought that he still had a big role to play in the future of the ANC, Phosa replied: “Every option is on the table. Members of the ANC should decide those questions. I will not refuse to serve in the structures of the ANC if I am asked to do so by the branches.”
Phosa also lashed out at the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), following its call for an ANC elective conference, saying it was “extremely un-ANC”.
“A call for an early conference and imposition of the leadership is contrary to the ANC constitution and principles. You can’t hold an ANC conference without discussion papers.”
But ANCYL president Collen Maine said the issues Phosa had raised had been addressed in the ANC.