ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says that the consensus reached by the ANC NEC over the past weekend is that it does not support calls for president Jacob Zuma to step down.
The rand lost ground against the dollar – down 2.11% to R14.05 – shortly after the announcement on Tuesday, reversing gains that lifted it near three-week highs in the previous session.
He made the statements at a briefing following the three-day NEC meeting, which focused on the party’s ‘roadmap’ towards its 54th national elective conference to be held in December 2017, with a mandate to unify the party.
Mantashe said that the biggest danger to the party was for members to view each other through the lens of the conference – looking at each other with suspicion – and that the party had to unify under ideological clarity.
He said that an unscheduled item was raised in the meeting on the matter of Zuma stepping down. In the spirit of the party, members allowed for debate around the issue.
However, he dismissed media reports saying that a vote was going to take place, noting that never in the history of the party has NEC voted on an issue. Members would try and persuade each other through debate, he said.
Ultimately, the message from the ANC was clear – it does not support calls for the president to step down, saying that there was a challenge – which was raised after the previous local elections – of a “negative narrative” being painted around the president.
The relevant statement is below:
On the call for the President to consider stepping down as President of the Republic, the NEC took time to elaborate on what we have previously identified as a negative narrative directed towards the President.
The essence of engagement and discussion is persuasion in order to arrive at consensus. As such, the NEC of the ANC always seeks to persuade one another through argument. It does not seek to conclude matters through voting.
Following robust, honest, candid and at times difficult discussions, the NEC did not support the call for the President to step down. The NEC resolved it was more urgent to direct the energies of the ANC in its entirety to working towards the unity of the movement.
All members of the NEC had an opportunity to raise, in the meeting, the issues they feel are hurting the movement and the country. All these are very important and are being given due consideration by the NEC.
At the start of the briefing, media were instructed not to put forward any questions asking to “confirm information” received from sources – pointing to widely reported discord coming from the meeting.
The ANC reportedly faced a particularly divisive NEC meeting, where the traditionally ‘safe’ space for president Jacob Zuma was rocked by a formal proposal that he be recalled.
The motion was put forward by tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, and backed by health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, and public works Minister Thulas Nxesi.
The call for Zuma to be recalled caught his supporters by surprise, pushing them into defensive action. The NEC meeting was pushed to a third day – most of which is said to have been consumed by the president’s supporters defending why he should stay.
In his own defence, Zuma said that everything that he is being blamed for – the Nkandla saga, state capture, corruption, and a poor showing in the elections – has been made up and fabricated by unnamed “enemies” and outside elements that are trying to see him in jail.
He refused to step down, saying that if he did, he may as well hand himself over to “the enemy”.
You can read who came to Zuma’s defence here.
The outcome to the NEC meeting – where Zuma would be declared safe – was predicted by many policial analysts, who said that the anti-Zuma faction within the ANC simply did not have the numbers to counter Zuma’s support.