Division amongst ANC leaders
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress came out swinging for Jacob Zuma last week, backing the corruption-mired president and declaring that opposition efforts to force his resignation would fail. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party was “gravely concerned” about displays of division among its top leaders.
However, Mantashe, deputy leader Cyril Ramaphosa and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize – three of the party’s top six officials – were prominent critics of Zuma for dismissing finance minister Pravin Gordhan and revamping the cabinet without consultation.
At an ANC national working party meeting agreement was reached to support Zuma and accusing its Communist Party (SACP) ally of leaking details of a bilateral meeting to the media, which the SACP has strongly denied.
It accepted the president’s right to sack Gordhan because their personal relationship had broken down. The ANC acknowledged that its allies, including the SACP and the COSATU trade union federation, had urged the president to resign, insisting that it would keep engaging with its tripartite alliance partners “on this matter”.
The SACP responded to the ANC statement making clear that it had informed the ANC first of its view that Zuma should resign before making a public announcement.
It described as “unacceptable” attempts to scapegoat the SACP for the president’s failure to consult. “He reshuffled the cabinet last week without even consulting the ANC itself, and not only alliance partners, on the other positions that were affected and names that were ‘decided elsewhere’, as confirmed by ANC officials in response to his unilateralism,” the SACP declared.
COSATU expressed support for the government’s stated commitment to radical economic transformation, but it insisted that this could not be divorced from a “commitment to fight against corruption and looting of our resources.”
The trade union centre confirmed that its main complaint was Zuma’s failure to consult either the ANC or its alliance partners.
It made clear that the labour movement remains committed to the tripartite alliance – but one which is reconfigured.
“We want an alliance which is led by the ANC that understands and accepts in practice the leading role of the working class as a primary motive force in the National Democratic Revolution,” Cosatu said.