ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has warned that there will be “serious consequences” for Cabinet ministers who are reportedly considering resigning en masse following a decision by the governing party’s highest decision-making structure to reaffirm its unwavering support of President Jacob Zuma.
Briefing the media in Johannesburg on the outcomes of the ANC’s extended national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which concluded late on Tuesday night, Mantashe said there were no mass resignations that the party expected as a result of the tense meeting that saw several senior government officials rebel against Zuma.
“There is no walking away when you like … the ANC cannot be a free-for-all movement,” Mantashe said, referring to the extraordinary split within Africa’s oldest liberation movement in 2008 when eight members of Cabinet resigned after the NEC recalled then president Thabo Mbeki from office.
The decision resulted in the formation of the ANC’s breakaway political party, the Congress of the People (Cope).
On Tuesday, Business Day reported that a group of ministers had threatened to resign on Sunday if President Jacob Zuma remained as the country’s president. The ministers apparently made the dramatic threat on the sidelines of the tense NEC meeting.
Three Cabinet ministers, Derek Hanekom, Thulas Nxesi and Aaron Motsoaledi, are understood to have openly called for Zuma’s head. ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte confirmed a call for a secret vote on Zuma’s fate did arise, however, “in the ANC, we do not vote”, she said.
Mantashe lambasted the media for creating “things that do not exist” based on reports from sources sharing information with journalists about the goings-on of the NEC meeting. He said there were no special members of the NEC called ministers; “we don’t have them,” he charged.