ANC Gauteng on Zuma booing: It wasn't us
The ANC in Gauteng has emphasised that it is 100% behind President Jacob Zuma despite reports to the contrary, and said disciplinary measures would be taken against any disruptive behaviour at future meetings.
"Our members must conduct themselves with utmost restraint and discipline in all public gatherings and organisational activities," said ANC provincial secretary David Makhura at a press briefing on Thursday at Walter Sisulu House.
The party has also condemned the booing of Zuma at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December, which many attributed to disenchanted members of the party in the province.
"People are spreading rumours. We think they must come forward and tell us who it is in the ANC in Gauteng who was involved," said Cosatu provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile, who was part of the briefing on behalf of the alliance.
The alliance has called for an investigation into the booing incident, it said in a statement distributed at the briefing. "That process of the investigation will say 'come forward and bring that evidence', not thumb-sucking and rumour mongering," added Dakile.
The ANC Gauteng branch under provincial chair Paul Mashatile was largely part of a "change" faction that tried to oust Zuma ahead of the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December 2012. The faction was unsuccessful and their loyalty to the national leadership of the party has been cast in doubt ever since.
Makhura himself landed in hot water in September last year when he indicated to the Sunday Times that the party's election campaign would involve sending Zuma to rural areas and former president Thabo Mbeki to suburbanites and the middle class, implying the latter was more sophisticated than Zuma.
The province has since sought to dispel any rumours of disunity and insisted that there were no attempts to undermine Zuma.
"That is why we put him as our number one on our list for Parliament," said Makhura.
However, there is a well-known schism between the party in the province under Mashatile and the government representative, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane. Mokonyane supported Zuma ahead of Mangaung, isolating her in the province, and expects to be returned to her position as premier for the favour.
But the party is reportedly at odds with her, and sources in the province have previously told the Mail & Guardian she does not appear on the province's list, potentially scuppering her chances to remain as premier, unless the party's national executive committee intervenes. But the alliance leaders in the province would not be drawn on the issue of the list – the finalisation of which has long been delayed – or on Mokonyane.
The M&G has previously reported that the delay in the list conference may be strategic on the party's part. A senior ANC member in the Western Cape said that, due to the factional battles, it had become the norm in that province for a large number of ANC members to stop campaigning for the party if their names did not appear high enough, or at all, on the national or provincial lists.
The Gauteng ANC announced the provincial manifesto launch on Sunday at Atteridgeville Stadium. This follows the party's national manifesto launch in Nelspruit last weekend, which the ANC declared a resounding success.
But it dismissed reports by the M&G and others that said the party had gone out of its way to put together an anti-booing strategy for that event.
Makhura said 500 buses were being planned for Sunday's event and emphasised that the party has always monitored who was on the buses, and ensured a coordinator for each.
"This has nothing to do with 'latest developments'," said Makhura.
The party didn't respond to the issue of e-tolls in its prepared statement, and told journalists that the solution was to expand public transport options.
"Our confident response is that the big intervention in rolling out public transport in Gauteng is the answer to the problems we have, even beyond the e-tolls," said Makhura. "The really big answer is to give people the option not to be travelling on the highways in their own cars when they can go about their business using public transport."
Makhura said the BRT system would be expanded to include suburbs and the rail network in the province was also being recapitalised.