ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte has made some startling revelations in a new interview with Gupta-owned media channel, ANN7.
In an interview with ANN7 political editor, Ricky Naidoo, Duarte acknowledged that the party was fighting a battle for the “heart of its identity” within itself.
She said that there were definitely ANC members in the party that were anti-president Jacob Zuma, and that there were increasingly divisive narratives being built up around the president and finance minister, Pravin Gordhan.
Speaking to Naidoo, Duarte attempted to set the record straight on a number of topics – from alleged state capture; Gordhan’s battle with the Hawks, and how the party is trying to fight the fight from within.
Here are five revelations that came from the interview:
An early elective conference is definitely on the cards
A call for an early elective conference has been put forward by Jackson Mthembu and Bathebile Dlamini. This could be as early as December 2016.
Secretary general Gwede Mantashe has already publicly stated that an early conference would not be a bad idea, however all stakeholders would need to be consulted.
Calls have also come from other branches in the party, with the ANC Youth League putting the proposal forward, with the ANC Women’s League expected to also support the call.
Foreign companies – not the Guptas – have “undue influence” in SA
Duarte admitted that she does not know if the president consults with the Gupta family – but said that, if he did, it would be out of character.
“Does the president consult the Guptas? I don’t know, that is the honest answer. I would be very surprised if he appointed people after consulting the Guptas, because that’s just not his style.”
The DSG said that the Gupta saga set a bad precedent for black business owners in the country – and them being effectively “run out” based on speculation meant that “black companies without a white partner stand no chance”.
Talking on claims of “undue influence” perpetrated by the Guptas, Duarte said that such influence was actually coming from other sectors – pointing to threats from companies like Coca-Cola to disinvest in the country if a sugar tax gets implemented.
“There is no ‘let’s sit down and talk’ – it’s just ‘we will just leave’,” she said.
Zuma isn’t responsible for the rand’s movements
Duarte expressed concern that the rand was being linked to “personalities” like president Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhan.
“We as the ANC must ask ‘why is the rand so jumpy? What is causing the rand to jump around so much?”
She noted that the rand, as a currency, is privately owned, and is impacted more by external movements, not individuals.
There is no Cabinet reshuffle coming – and no plan to “get rid of the reds”
Referring to claims by the South African Communist Party that there is a concerted effort to remove “the reds” (communists) from government, Duarte dismissed the talk outright, even laughing at the notion.
It is speculated that the next big move from president Zuma is a Cabinet reshuffle, which would see SACP leaders like Gordhan and deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas replaced.
Economists and analysts have warned that such a move would cement South Africa’s “junk” status, and would destroy the economy.
Duarte dismissed this, saying that “there’s no talk within the ANC of reshuffling people at this present time.”
The DSG said that, while the ANC NEC were surprised by the president’s shuffle in December 2015 – when former finmin Nhlanhla Nene was fired and replaced with the then-unknown Des van Rooyen – the president is often in consultation with the NEC over appointments.
Gordhan is isolating himself – and should do what the Hawks say
Finally, speaking on the so-called “Sars Wars”, Duarte said that the finance minister should have complied with the Hawks’ request to see him, so that his integrity could be challenged by the process.
She said she believed Gordhan was innocent, but should have respected the state processes.
“At the moment, these are all allegations, not charges. I don’t think Pravin Gordhan would do anything illegal – so I don’t think there would have been any harm in appearing before the Hawks,” she said.
“Grand-standing will undermine (Gordhan’s integrity) even more.”
Duarte said that no one in the ANC wanted “thieves” in the party, and that they needed to be stopped and expelled – and in that way they were all on the same side. However, she said that they couldn’t ignore the processes involved.
“It’s about fighting the thieves – but also about respecting the institutions of the state,” she said.
“Everyone needs to calm down”
Duarte said that the ANC needed to put aside the narratives being put out in the public to divide the party, and come together and talk.
“I don’t want to be seen as taking sides. We need to calm down, stop the rumour mongering, and we need to face each other and talk.”
Duarte said that the current narratives around the ANC were working right into the hands of the opposition – namely the EFF and the DA. She said it was time for the ANC to show unity.
“The demise of the ANC is the rise of the EFF and the DA,” she said. “Every ANC member needs to come together and defend the party.”