Chairperson of the ANC in Mpumalanga David Mabuza has accused top leaders in the party of setting a bad example after they expressed their disagreement with President Jacob Zuma over his recent Cabinet reshuffle.
He made the comments during a media briefing in Bushbuckridge on Sunday.
Mabuza said it was the president’s prerogative to hire and fire ministers as he pleased. He said those who took issue with the matter could raise this internally.
“I can hear the [secretary general Gwede Mantashe] is talking. I hear the [deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa] speaking. They must remember they are not presidents. He’s the deputy president and he is the SG,” said Mabuza.
Zuma shocked many in the country last week when he replaced some ministers in his national executive. He fired much-loved and trusted former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Mabuza, who has been rumoured to be close to the ANC’s treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, failed to call Mkhize out for also releasing a statement lashing out at the president for his actions.
Three of the ANC’s top six have said they were not consulted over the changes.
“I don’t know whether they want to exercise the same powers that the president has, it’s quite ill-disciplined that members will go out and talk… ‘I differ with the president’ this…no, no. This is ill-discipline,” Mabuza said.
He questioned the motive behind both Mantashe and Ramaphosa’s comments on the shake-up.
“I don’t think they are setting a good example. We are working hard on the ground here to unite the ANC and I can see they are working to divide the ANC,” he said.
Mabuza said issues had to be resolved in party meetings.
Mabuza denied that his comments were driven by factional battles in the party ahead of its national elective conference in December, insisting that he was motivated by the desire to bring unity to the party.
Compared to Zuma
The Mpumalanga chairperson, who is also the premier of the province, compared his role to that of President Zuma “but to a lesser extent”.
He said Zuma had a responsibility to the country just as he had to the province he was leading.
“I can’t blame that MEC and that MEC. I must act to get things to be done. No one can be above the premier in a province,” he said.
“I cannot be pushed to a point where I am useless, [where] I cannot remove an MEC and the MEC has become a de facto premier? Then I am useless as a premier,” he explained.
Mabuza said his position had to be respected.
He said Zuma also had the right to outsource advice on which ministers he wanted under him, stating that there is nothing wrong with the president taking guidance from outside the ANC.