ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa scored a significant victory at the weekend as President Jacob Zuma’s allies sided with him to oust the president and to deal with culprits behind state capture.
In terms of the ANC national executive committee’s (NEC) decision, Zuma has to go before the state of the nation address (Sona) on February 8 and visible action must be taken against corruption.
The NEC top six has to deliver the bad news to the president, who has to step down of his own accord, or be pushed out.
The NEC decision that the party’s top brass must ask Zuma to resign left no doubt that his fate is sealed. The NEC, as the party’s highest decision-making body in between conferences, was supposed to pronounce publicly about Zuma’s fate, but respected Ramaphosa’s undertaking that the recall should not embarrass or humiliate the president.
An ANC source said the NEC agreed that Zuma must go as soon as possible. That he must go is a given and that he must go sooner is also a given. “It makes no sense for Zuma to deliver the state of the nation address and then go. He has to go now before the Sona,” the source said. With Zuma supporters slowly moving to his side, Ramaphosa scored a victory which was even more significant than the one at the national conference, where he was elected as ANC president.
Now at the helm of the ruling party as a centre of power, he is able to issue instructions from Luthuli House on what the Zuma government should and should not do.
Ramaphosa stamped his authority when he told the ANC lekgotla on Friday that all government deployees must account to the ANC as a strategic centre of power.
Ramaphosa demonstrated to all that he is now the boss and he has begun to crack the whip. He made it clear on Friday that he wanted action against corruption before he went to World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, tomorrow to meet investors.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has moved to seize assets belonging to the Gupta-linked Trillian Capital and international consultancy firm McKinsey & Company to recover R1.6 billion allegedly attained through state capture at power utility Eskom.
According to the Sunday Times, the AFU further negotiated with Dubai authorities to act to ensure the repatriation of Gupta assets in that country should that be necessary after its probe. The Guptas are also in trouble over an amount of R10 million allegedly paid to Atul Gupta and at least R4 million paid to Kamal Vasram of Sahara Computers, a Gupta-owned company, emanating from a dairy project in Vrede in the Free State.
The AFU investigation is likely to implicate a number of senior politicians, including Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who is former agriculture MEC in Free State.
The dairy project, which was allegedly a money-making scheme for the Guptas, was established by the Free State provincial government led by Premier Ace Magashule, who has since been elected as ANC secretary-general.
Some say even Magashule is not off the hook. As part of his clean-up campaign, Ramaphosa also fired the controversial Eskom board, with the appointment of a new one chaired by businessperson Jabu Mabuza, with Phakamani Hadebe as interim CEO.
Ramaphosa not only ordered the new board to remove Eskom executives linked to the Gupta family, he also asked it to appoint the utility’s permanent group CEO and group chief financial officer.
Ramaphosa is also expected to appoint the new head of the National Prosecuting Authority, in line with the recent High Court in Pretoria ruling.