Up to 101 ANC stalwarts have banded together to publicly express concern about the state of the country – having failed to engage with president Jacob Zuma one-on-one – and to throw their support behind finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
The stalwarts, who include former finance minister Trevor Manuel, Pallo Jordan and Albertina Luthuli, have signed an open letter addressed to the president and the ANC executive, calling for introspection within the party, and for the ANC to move back to its roots in the Freedom Charter.
The letter expresses deep concern for the state of the country under the current leadership, saying that it was necessary to address the issues as a collective, as repeated attempts for the stalwarts to raise concerns with the party on an individual basis have failed.
“The pace of events unfolding in the ANC‚ Government‚ and civil society severely limits the ability of many within the African National Congress to use the normal internal processes and largely dysfunctional structures to raise concerns and potential solutions; there is simply not the time,” the letter said.
“We believe that the overwhelming majority of ANC members who are committed to the real values of the ANC will understand this and give their support to any initiative that helps strengthen the movement‚ government‚ the role of Parliament‚ and the institutions of the state to ensure the necessary corrections take place‚ before it is too late.”
The letter also expresses explicit support for finance minister Pravin Gordhan, in his ongoing battle against trumped-up fraud charges by the Hawks and the NPA.
“As signatories we stand in solidarity with the Minister of Finance‚ Pravin Gordhan and the other accused‚ Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay,” the group said.
“We strongly believe the charges are without foundation and clearly show a misuse of state agencies‚ when the NPA and other agencies should be focusing on cases of corruption and the misuse of public funds.”
“We urge all members of the ANC to show their support for the three accused on Wednesday‚ 2nd of November 2016 at the Pretoria regional court. No stalwart who believes in the historical values of the ANC can abstain from this issue.”
The ANC voices of support for Gordhan join other big names currently active in the party – including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – as well as business leaders and executives across the country, who are standing publicly behind the minister.
While president Jacob Zuma has also voiced support for Gordhan, it has always been on behalf of government, in an official, removed tone. It is widely seen that the entire case against Gordhan is a politically orchestrated move by Zuma and his supporters.
Factions within the ANC, see as ‘captured’ by Zuma and his allies – including the ANC Youth League, the ANC Women’s League, the so-called ‘Premier League’, the Hawks and the NPA, have all been antagonistic towards Gordhan.
On Friday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe echoed similar sentiments to the ANC stalwarts, saying that the party needed to reassess itself and move back to its roots as being a party for the people.
Last week, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said that the ANC leadership had failed the people, and the entire executive – including the president, deputy and even himself – should step down.
The full list of ANC members who signed the letter can be found here.