A report, obtained exclusively by city press, reveals that the president was asked to step down by the ANC’s integrity commission. But he turned them down, saying only he could stop the West from capturing the ANC.
President Jacob Zuma has refused to step down after the ANC’s integrity commission asked him to do so, saying his resignation would allow Western governments to capture the party and betray the revolution.
This defence is outlined in a report, written by the commission and addressed to secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, following meetings between Zuma and the commission, which took place in December and April.
The six-page report is signed by ANC stalwart and Rivonia Trialist Andrew Mlangeni, in his capacity as the commission’s chairperson.
It is dated May 21 2017, a week before the last sitting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) took place, in which Zuma survived yet another attempt to have him removed through a proposal to table a motion of no confidence in him. This was the second such attempt in the space of seven months.
Following calls to the integrity commission for Zuma to be brought to book, the president met with its members and, according to the report, is said to have refused to resign.
“The president stated emphatically that he would not resign. He believed that to do so would be a betrayal of our people and of our revolution,” the report reads.
“When he was head of the ANC’s intelligence department, he had been advised of plots to get rid of him. Recently, he had been made aware of similar plots and threats to his security. Much of the detail that the president gave the commission was in confidence.
“The essence of the president’s refusal to resign is his belief that there exists a conspiracy by Western governments to oust him as president of the ANC and of the country. Their objective is to replace him in order to capture the ANC.”
The integrity commission rejected this explanation, saying it made light of the crisis in the governing party.
“The integrity commission does not agree with the president’s explanation. It does not accept the notion that opposition to the president can be attributed solely to a Western conspiracy. This explanation ignores the very real problems in the ANC, as evidenced by the rapid decline in support for the ANC.”
Commissioners expressed concern about the state of the tripartite alliance, the disarray that was rife in state institutions, irresponsible comments made by the ANC women’s and youth leagues, and the conduct of some Cabinet ministers, which had “been allowed to go unchecked”.
The group lamented that all these issues had taken place under Zuma’s leadership.
During the meeting, the commissioners acknowledged the role that Zuma had played in stabilising KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990s, the popularity he had enjoyed after being elected and his reputation for taking advice.
“In the past, it was common practice for veterans and stalwarts of the ANC to be consulted. Sadly, this no longer happens.”
Zuma is reported to have expressed the wish that he could have met the commissioners before they became involved in initiatives calling for him to resign.
“He wished that the meeting had happened before some commissioners had become involved in the 101 Veterans’ and Umkhonto weSizwe Veterans’ initiatives. He felt that this called into question the independence of the commission. He believed that he had been judged prematurely, without having been given the opportunity to explain his position.”
The 101 Veterans, led by Reverend Frank Chikane, include the late Ahmed Kathrada – who had written to Zuma asking him to step down – and commission chair Mlangeni.
During his opening address at the ANC’s fifth National Policy Conference, which was held at Nasrec and ended this week, Zuma tore into the veterans – who boycotted the conference – saying their calling for him to step down was taking away the rights of branches to pick their leader.
“Anginazi ukuthi nadalwa kanjani [I don’t know how you were created]. People take your right. You just keep quiet because you are the only ones who can hire and fire, not so?” Zuma said.
“Senilalela thina ngoba sesihamba kancane, sijikisamakhanda kancane. Sesithatha iyikhundla zenu maybabo [You listen to those of us who now walk slowly and turn our heads slowly. We take your rights].”
Mlangeni, who was seated on stage during the address, was seen walking off in the middle of the president’s onslaught against the party elders.
Zuma also told the commissioners that the crisis in the ANC could not be placed squarely on his shoulders as he had inherited divisions in the party, which existed under the leadership of former president Thabo Mbeki.
In the correspondence to Mantashe, Mlangeni also writes that the commission wanted the report to be tabled at the next sitting of the NEC, which took place five days after the report was submitted.
City Press understands that some NEC members approached Mantashe about the tabling of the report ahead of the NEC sitting, to no avail.
But Mantashe said he did nothing untoward: “Reports of the integrity commission do not go to the NEC, in terms of the national general council meeting. But people wanted it for their own purposes.
“Because the question is: Why don’t they ask for the report on Sbu [Ndebele], on Bathabile [Dlamini], on [Phumelele] Ndamase? There were four reports that we had at the time: three proper reports and ... this one on the commission meeting.
Sources close to the matter allege that Mantashe told the commission that the report was not tabled at the NEC out of protection for the commissioners, who would come under serious fire.
Mantashe added that, unlike the other three reports which made recommendations, the report about the president did not come with any recommendation for Zuma to step down but offered a mere sentence in the middle of a conversation recorded in the report.
The report ends by calling for the party to redouble its efforts to regain citizens’ confidence in the ANC.
“The breakdown of the unity of the ANC and the potential breakdown of the alliance is cause for alarm,” say the commissioners.
“New and innovative ways need to be found to rebuild the unity and solidarity of these forces.
“Similarly, the ANC needs to make sure that a conscious and concerted effort is made to regain the confidence and trust of all sections of the people of South Africa.”
In 2015, the ANC’s national general council resolved to accord more authority to the integrity commission following its establishment in 2013.
During this week’s policy conference, the ANC again resolved to beef up the powers of the commission.
Proposals were made that the structure be given constitutional powers to deal with members accused of corruption.
During a report-back on the commission for organisational renewal, drafting committee member Febe Potgieter-Gqubule told the media that the powers of the commission had to be “strengthened” and that party members should be suspended, pending the outcomes of disciplinary processes, in a bid to curb corruption.