African National Congress (ANC) members Bheki Cele and Nathi Mthethwa reportedly came close to blows during the ruling party’s extended national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Irene, Tshwane, over the August 2012 Marikana massacre.
The minister of arts and culture, who was police minister at the time of the incident, was apparently annoyed by Cele pointing out to him that the tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 44 people happened under his watch.
The Sowetan reported on Tuesday the former police commissioner wanted to demonstrate to NEC members that the ANC was in trouble because its leaders never took responsibility when they failed at their jobs.
The tabloid reported that, according to sources who attended the meeting, which saw a motion of no confidence being tabled against President Jacob Zuma by some members of Cabinet, Cele’s remarks angered Mthethwa, who in turn screamed at him: “Are you threatening me?”
Several ministers shocked Zuma’s supporters in the NEC by calling for his removal from office following a raft of scandals that have beset his presidency. Aaron Motsoaledi, Derek Hanekom and Thulas Nxesi are understood to have backed the motion.
A Cabinet reshuffle is now almost certainly on the cards after a number of ministers and top ANC members decided to speak out openly against the president.
The paper also reported that those in support of Zuma called on him to fire ministers who wanted him to step down, saying there was a clear breakdown of trust.
Mahumapelo calls Zuma’s detractors ‘counter-revolutionary’
North West premier and provincial ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo apparently called Zuma’s dissidents within the NEC “counter-revolutionary” and accused them of wanting regime change.
Mahumapelo is purported be a part of the so-called “Premier League”, an ANC lobby group that includes Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, who are also alleged to be in favour of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the party’s first woman president.
Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe, a staunch backer of the president, reportedly attacked Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile for supporting the call for Zuma to step down as the country’s head of state.
Mahlobo gets ‘shouted at’ by NEC members
Another Zuma ally, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, is also understood to have supported him, but NEC members reportedly shouted him down when he claimed he had been a member of the ANC for 30 years.
ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, who recently penned an open letter calling on Zuma to resign, supported a secret ballot on Zuma’s recall. Motshekga previously defended No.1 on the controversial Nkandla report.
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane apparently begged for unity among NEC members, saying the debate would destroy the ANC.
NEC member Pule Mabe said if the secret ballot were to be agreed on, parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should also be on the ballot for removal.
According to The Sowetan, some NEC members made a proposal for the matter regarding Zuma’s recall to be discussed further and report back to the committee.
The ANC is expected to brief the media on the outcomes of the tense three-day meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences at 2pm on Tuesday.