In a day of contrasts, Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu claimed in parliament on Thursday that President Cyril Ramaphosa conducted a coup against his predecessor Jacob Zuma, while trade unionist Zwelinzima Vavi issued another apology to former president Thabo Mbeki for believing that Mbeki plotted the fall of Zuma.
Shivambu was addressing Ramaphosa in a follow-up question in the presidential question time in parliament. But he was ruled out of order by Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu objected to Shivambu’s claim and asked Tsenoli to take action against him, because the allegations he made against Ramaphosa were unfounded. Tsenoli promised to ensure that the matter was investigated and appropriate action taken against Shivambu if necessary.
On the other hand, Vavi wished Mbeki a happy 78th birthday, saying: “May you see more Zizi!, I can never apologise enough for believing misinformation that you plotted the downfall of your comrade! How I wish many more will also apologise,” Vavi tweeted.
Mbeki was ousted during the ANC’s national conference at Polokwane in December 2007 and was replaced by Zuma during a strong campaign led by Vavi, SACP leader Blade Nzimande, former ANC youth league president and now EFF leader Julius Malema, and other pro-Zuma allies.
There are questions around the real reason for Mbeki’s removal which happened a year-and-a-half prior to the expiry of his term as the country’s president. The ANC constitution did not provide for the president to serve only one term, but the leftist within the ANC used the moment to remove Mbeki and install Zuma, who in turn gave them positions in his government elected in April 2009.
Mbeki had resigned as president in September 2008 amid pressure from Zuma and his new ANC national executive committee to step down. Mbeki bowed out of office without resistance, and Kgalema Motlanthe replaced him as caretaker president. Zuma supporters also harassed Motlanthe out of the way as they were eager to see their hero assuming both centres of power – the ANC and the country’s presidencies.
Motlanthe further placed himself in the scopes of the Zuma camp when he challenged Zuma for the ANC presidency at Mangaung, Free State in December 2012. He lost the race and had been sidelined since then, but that gave Ramaphosa an opportunity to return to active politics as he became Zuma’s deputy.
Many like Shivambu believed that Ramaphosa’s election at Nasrec as ANC president, was a coup against Zuma. Now Shivambu repeated this in parliament yesterday, but the rules of the House prohibited a member from making wild allegations especially when challenged, as Mthembu did.