/ 1 April 2008

ANC jumps to Zuma’s defence over Pityana attack

The African National Congress (ANC) has come out in defence of its president, Jacob Zuma, after scathing criticism of him by University of South Africa rector Barney Pityana on Monday.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described Pityana’s statements as ”spurious” and a reflection of ”intellectual bankruptcy”.

Mantashe was addressing a press conference following a meeting between the ruling party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Johannesburg on Monday.

”We saw the statements by Professor Barney Pityana. We describe them as spurious statements against the president of the ANC,” he said.

Pityana earlier said Zuma had failed to inspire confidence during his first few months at the party’s helm.

”To many of us, Jacob Zuma, popularly elected by the branch delegates at Polokwane in December 2007, remains a flawed character in his moral conduct; he has been indicted for serious crimes that involve corruption and dishonesty,” Pityana said.

”So far he does not encourage confidence in his understanding of policy, appearing as he does in the short term to be making policy pronouncements on the hoof depending on who he wishes to appease at any one moment,” Pityana said at the Law Society of South Africa’s annual general meeting in Stellenbosch.

Mantashe said Pityana’s statements were an indication that Pityana was clinging to personalities and failing to view the organisation, the ANC, as a whole.

Pityana also did not understand Zuma, Mantashe said.

The meeting between Cosatu and the ANC was the first since the new party leadership was elected in Polokwane in December.

Cosatu’s central executive committee had determined to increase its numbers in the ANC’s structures and this featured in the discussions between the alliance partners on Monday.

Mantashe told reporters that while the current national executive committee was more representative than in the past, it had one member from labour. Beefing up working-class representation was being considered.

”We have agreed to write detailed papers to the [alliance] summit and we will deal with those issues … we are going to look into it, and take a decision at the alliance summit,” he said.

Discussed at the meeting was Cosatu’s intention to take legal action against the composition of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s board, which, it felt, did not represent the working class.

”We agreed to go back and look into a number of options … the issue that we have agreed on is: Is it not possible to avoid litigation as a way of solving a political problem and therefore look into various options?” Mantashe said.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said: ”We can’t have the board the way it is for the next five years. We are, however, quite willing to engage the ANC over the options that will be discussed with us once the ANC has an opportunity to have their discussions.” — Sapa