ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile has confirmed the party’s position taken during its provincial executive committee meeting on Monday that President Jacob Zuma must step down as the country’s president.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday, Mashatile said the party has accepted Zuma’s apology after the Constitutional Court judgment that he failed to uphold the Constitution. But he said the provincial executive committee felt that the apology alone was not enough to restore the confidence of the people in the ANC.
“We felt that the apology alone won’t win back the confidence of the people. It [the judgment] damaged the image of the country and the ANC. If we want to win back the confidence of the people, you must listen to what they are saying. Many people have been saying he [Zuma] must step down. It will help [us] if he steps down,” said Mashatile.
The ANC in Gauteng is the first provincial structure to take a stance against Zuma since the Constitutional Court judgment that he failed to uphold the Constitution. This was after he failed to comply with the public protector’s remedial action that he must pay back a portion of the R246-million used for security upgrades at his rural Nkandla home.
The ANC’s top six and the party’s national working committee last week accepted Zuma’s apology, but several ANC branches and party veterans have been calling for the president’s head over the past few days. The ANC’s alliance partner – the South African Communist Party – also said Zuma’s apology was not enough.
The Gauteng PEC also discussed the possibility of Zuma appearing before the party’s integrity committee for bringing it into disrepute, said Mashatile.
He said ANC branches in Gauteng would from today onward meet to discuss the implication of the Constitutional Court judgment against Zuma. The party will hold the provincial general council [PGC] on May 5 to take the final decision.
“This is just the decision of the PEC. We will take the final decision on the matter once we have met all branches, said Mashatile. He said the ANC in the province was also planning to engage party stewards, civil society and religious bodies on the matter.
An ANC PEC member earlier told the M&G that the party would request an urgent meeting with Zuma at which they would tell him to do the right thing and resign as the country’s president.
“There was a strong feeling [during the meeting] that we must accept President Zuma’s apology, but that there must be consequences after the Constitutional Court judgment that he failed to uphold the supreme law of the country. There was a strong view during the meeting that we must engage with president Zuma to say to him that in the interest of the organisation and the nation, you must resign. That view [that Zuma must resign] resonated throughout the entire meeting,” said the PEC member who asked to remain anonymous.
ANC provincial secretary Hope Papo said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that while the PEC noted and accepted Zuma’s public apology, it believed this was just the beginning of dealing with the political damage and mistrust caused by the mismanagement of the Nkandla matter.
“The PEC believes that the ANC has already paid a price during the 2014 elections, due to among others, the anger of the electorate about the matter. As the ANC we have to do a deeper introspection and take far-reaching decisions that will repair the damage to our image and to continue to enjoy the confidence and trust of our people.
” The PEC reiterated that the ANC has earned its leadership of society through the struggles and sacrifices of its members and supporters over generations. It is in that context that our President comrade Jacob Zuma should reflect deeply and do the right thing to resolve the unprecedented crisis that the ANC currently faces. The ANC has never taken the support of our people for granted and was founded to defend and advance the rights of our people,” said Papo.
Meanwhile, the ANC in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal has come out in his defense.
It said in a statement on Tuesday that it accepted Zuma’s apology and his explanation relating to the Constitutional Court judgment.
“We strongly reject with [the] contempt it deserves the call by our legendary opponents and those within our ranks, including some religious leaders, for the President to step down. This coalition against President Zuma has naked intentions to weaken and tarnish the glorious image of the ANC as the leader of the national democratic revolution,” said ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma in a statement.
He said the province expected President Zuma to focus on his important tasks of leading “our people on a journey to a national democratic society”. The masses fully understand that whatever the setbacks of the moment from, nothing can stop our movement from its historic tasks [sic],” said the KZN provincial secretary.