ANC stalwarts and veterans have joined forces and instructed the ANC leadership at Luthuli House to recall Jacob Zuma as party leader and the country’s president, as he has “crossed the line and abused his prerogative to fire and appoint ministers”.
Calls for Zuma to resign are intensifying from various quarters, following his shock Cabinet reshuffle last week and the subsequent decision by Standard & Poor’s Global to downgrade South Africa to junk status.
The stalwarts on Tuesday said they would send a delegation to parliament to ask the ANC caucus why they had failed to hold Zuma and his executive accountable for their decisions.
Party stalwart Murphy Morobe said they were left with no other option but to ask the ANC to recall Zuma.
“We have identified the need for strong and clear leadership, we were unanimous in our view on this matter,” he said.
Another stalwart, Trevor Fowler, said the stalwarts’ Council of Elders would meet with the ANC top six to hear how they differed with Zuma over the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
“They would also go to the ANC caucus to ask them why they failed to hold the executive accountable,” Fowler said.
The stalwarts said that Zuma had defied the party and fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, instead of those he had been told by the party to dismiss.
The group revealed that the president was told by the ANC to remove Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini over the social grants debacle and former communications minister Faith Muthambi over her interference at the SABC.
“They praised underperformance by these ministers. To us, the president has decided to take a position in defiance of the party and the constitution. He is the law unto himself,” said ANC stalwart Cheryl Carolus.
The stalwarts said they have come to the conclusion that Zuma had crossed the line when he implemented his latest Cabinet reshuffle without consulting the ANC leadership.
The stalwarts and veterans yesterday held a three-hour meeting in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Among them were former Cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya, Dr Frank Chikane, writer Wally Serote, Getrude Shope, Carolus, Siphiwe Nyanda and others.
The stalwarts accused Zuma of being responsible for the current crisis in the ANC. They said under his leadership the party was beset by divisions, factionalism, corruption, gatekeeping and crises of unprecedented proportions.
The stalwarts said Zuma was the first president of the democratic South Africa to delink himself from the ANC in his decision making. “He has decided to defy the ANC leadership, it has never happened in the history of the ANC for a leader to defy the organisation,” Carolus said.
Morobe said some of the stalwarts would participate in the mass action that would call for Zuma to step down.
Serote accused the ANC leadership of backtracking on its agreement to hold a consultative conference before its policy and national elective conferences so as to end the crisis in the party.
“We met with them to discuss how to resolve the current crisis in the ANC. The NEC agreed to a consultative conference, but in our last meeting we were utterly shocked that some of them say they never agreed to that.
“The ANC is in a deep crisis; we as veterans and stalwarts want to save our glorious movement,” said Serote.