President Jacob Zuma’s supporters within the governing African National Congress (ANC) are reportedly gunning for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s head after he failed to come to Zuma’s defence during a tense meeting of the party’s top structure, the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), over the weekend in Pretoria.
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On Friday, Mail & Guardian reported that after an unsuccessful motion to oust Zuma from power by some of his Cabinet ministers, the embattled president’s backers this week apparently attacked Ramaphosa for not defending him.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, which implicated Zuma and his cronies in irregular activity and the Constitutional Court’s damning judgement into nonsecurity upgrades to his private Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal were cited by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom as reasons for tabling the motion of no confidence against Zuma.
Though Hanekom was backed by several other ministers, he has become the face of discontent of NEC members who are fed up with the president’s leadership, who also include parliament chief whip Jackson Mthembu and economic transformation committee head Enoch Gondogwana.
The paper reported that Zuma’s supporters believed Ramaphosa, as the second most senior leader, could have prevented the drama that unfolded during the three-day meeting. The faction is also apparently unhappy that the deputy president did not take the opportunity to distance himself from The Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) calls for him to succeed Zuma as the next leader of the ANC.
“JZ [Jacob Zuma] needed Cyril the most, and he was nowhere to be found. At least now we know we can’t count on him. He should have defended JZ as a matter of principle. But he kept quiet throughout. So he is not with us, and we can’t rely on him,” said an unidentified ANC leader sympathetic to Zuma.
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On Wednesday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said he had witnessed hatred from a majority of NEC, saying members of the body should be able to disagree with each other without harbouring hatred or that would tear the ANC apart.
Approached for comment by the weekly, Mantashe said no concerns had been raised about Ramaphosa in the meeting.
“They didn’t say anything in the meeting about that. How can they now want to chirp their mouths to you but they didn’t raise it in the meeting? And members didn’t debate in that meeting. We reached a consensus,” he said.