Factional battles within the governing African National Congress (ANC) continue to play out in areas including social media, where former minister Derek Hanekom said on Sunday night that while the ANC should continue to strive for unity, it would have been “disastrous” if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma won the party’s 54th electoral conference, which took place at Nasrec in 2017.
“Let’s just say it, unapologetically, and be frank about it – although we should continue to strive for unity in the ANC – a different outcome at Nasrec would have been disastrous for our country,” he tweeted.
This led to criticism from former home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete, who suggested that the ANC’s younger members could teach their elders a thing or two about leadership.
“ANC comrades must stop saying the other side is evil,” he said, adding that “it justifies all manner of divisive evil to stop the other side”.
“You are all comrades but you clearly think very little of each other… its exhausting to watch. Let us lead if it’s defeating you.”
In another tweet shortly afterwards, Tshwete said: “Our elders are so immature.”
Hanekom, who resigned as an MP in June after not making it into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, is nevertheless a Ramaphosa loyalist.
He was removed from the executive by former president Jacob Zuma in one of the then president’s last of many cabinet reshuffles. The former minister had been increasingly outspoken in his opposition to Zuma and is known to be a strong supporter of Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to power.
Hanekom recently became embroiled in controversy within his party after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema revealed that he had met with the opposition party to discuss the ousting of Zuma.
The former minister admitted to the meeting but downplayed its importance. He also denied Malema’s allegation that he planned to form a new party if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma beat Cyril Ramaphosa to the ANC presidency at the Nasrec elective conference in 2017, and rebutted the EFF leader’s claims that he furnished the EFF with a list of ANC MPs who would vote for Zuma’s removal in Parliament.
“I had a meeting with one member of the EFF at the time and when you’re in Parliament, you have such meetings all the time. I sat down and had coffee with one prominent member the EFF at the time, a meeting he requested, I should say. We discussed how to deal with [the] difficult time in the country’s history and there was no way I would refuse discussions of that nature. 2017 was a year in which we saw mass action… our country was in a crisis and we know all that centred around our then president,” Hanekom said.
Zuma reacted to the revelation of Hanekom’s EFF meeting on Twitter by saying he was not surprised as Hanekom is a “known enemy agent”.
Hanekom has since announced that he would sue Zuma for half a million rand for the tweet.
Hanekom said Zuma’s claim had caused “immense harm and damage” to his reputation, harm that would continue as long as “this statement remained published without censure”.