The ANC is finally calling Jacob Zuma to order. The president will appear before the party’s integrity commission on December 3 for possibly bringing the party into disrepute.
It is understood that Zuma will be quizzed on the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla and the public protector’s State of Capture report, which casts aspersions on his role in facilitating lucrative state contracts with family friends.
The meeting will also touch on the party’s poor performance during the local government elections and the electorate’s apparent loss of confidence in the ANC.
Integrity commission deputy chairperson Frene Ginwala has previously criticised Zuma for refusing to answer questions put to him by the former public protector, Thuli Madonsela. And integrity commission chairperson Andrew Mlangeni was scathing in his criticism of Zuma, telling the Cape Times last month that the scandals surrounding the Gupta family had cost the party dearly.
“I think they should have taken a decision and asked him to resign because, by not resigning, he has killed the organisation, and the economy of the country has gone down,” the former Rivonia trialist was quoted as saying.
The Mail & Guardian learned this week that party veterans wrote to Zuma asking him to meet the integrity commission regarding concerns about the direction the ANC is taking under his leadership.
In Parliament this week, Zuma dismissed the State of Capture report and insisted that no one could instruct him to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry. The public protector’s report instructs Zuma to allow Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to do so.
Labour union federation Cosatu said on Thursday it agreed with the public protector’s recommendation.
The move to summon Zuma to face the integrity commission has angered some of the president’s supporters, who are already suggesting the commission should be dissolved.
ANC insiders, who asked to remain anonymous, said Zuma first told members of the ANC national working committee during its meeting last week that he had agreed to meet the integrity commission on December 3.
The decision to summon him comes months after some ANC branches demanded that Zuma, like any other party member, should be subjected to the commission. This followed the Constitutional Court judgment that the president had failed to uphold the Constitution and his oath of office by refusing to comply with the public protector’s remedial action.
Some ANC leaders have previously complained that the integrity commission is used by political leaders to fight political battles. Among those who raised concerns is Tony Yengeni, who was hauled before the commission, who asked why people such as Zuma were not told to appear before the commission.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has confirmed that Zuma will appear before the commission but pointed out that the president has not been charged.
“It’s not what you think. They want to talk to him. It’s not charges. They called him to discuss the state of the organisation, that’s all,” said Mantashe.
Ginwala said it was not the business of the integrity commission to charge ANC members.
“Ours is based on the question of bringing the ANC into disrepute. We write to them [ANC members] and explain why we want them to meet us. We are not charging people. We are looking at the effect of their actions. Is the ANC brought into disrepute? That’s not a charge. The people who charge are the disciplinary committee [DC]. This is why, in the case of [former ANC Western Cape chairman] Marius Fransman, our recommendation was that the case must go to the DC,” she said.
So far, the ANC has implemented almost all recommendations made by the integrity commission to discipline senior ANC members. Those who were removed from their positions as a result of the commission’s recommendation include Fransman, former Northern Cape chairperson John Block, former communications minister Dina Pule and former health MEC in Limpopo, Miriam Segabutla.
ANC Youth League president Collen Maine is one of the Zuma supporters unhappy about the integrity commission’s decision to summon him. Maine said it was difficult to see how Zuma would be given a fair hearing, given that some members of the commission have already come out publicly to say Zuma should step down.
“We, as the youth league, are concerned about the timing of this call, and also that some of the committee members have already made pronouncements. They have views. We would have thought that, when there is an issue, a comrade should come in and explain himself.
“We hope the president will go there and clarify, but we don’t know if the process will have integrity.”
He said he could not rule out the possibility of ANC members demanding that the integrity commission should be dissolved.
“Well, I can’t say that’s my view. That issue will have to go back to the ANC national conference because, when they [commission members] take sides and make pronouncements, there is no integrity,” he said.
ANC national executive committee member and Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu said the integrity commission could call any member of the ANC, including Zuma, to appear before it. She described calls by some ANC members to dissolve the commission as a sideshow.
“The president has agreed to do what needs to be done like all cadres. What matters is the president’s response to the integrity committee. The president is not a collective. The president is one person,” Zulu said.
She said, by summoning Zuma to appear before it, the commission was doing what it was set up to do.
“The president has been called to the … committee and the president has agreed to go the integrity committee. I think that’s what is important right now. The other people who are talking to you telling you other stories, I don’t know. The fact is the president has agreed to go to the integrity committee. We take it from there.
“The president is being respectful of our own internal processes. He’s an ANC cadre. He is a cadre and he is aware there is an integrity committee,” she said.
Approached for comment, Mlangeni initially said he heard that Zuma would appear before the commission, but later changed that to say he was not aware of it. He said those who wanted to dissolve the integrity commission should raise the matter with the ANC.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The ANC does not speak on the work of the integrity commission. It can only speak on the results. I can’t even know who is on their list to appear there. We would only know afterwards. Because, when the commission calls people, it calls them independently, so I don’t even know who is on their list.”
Umkhonto weSizwe Military Verterans’ Association leader Kebby Mapatsoe, who is a vocal Zuma supporter, said: “If the integrity commission has called the president and he has agreed to go. Let’s just wait and see what the reasons are for them to call him. Because he hasn’t done anything wrong, the president. He has never brought the organisation into disrepute. So let’s wait to hear the reasons.”
Yengeni this week refused to comment on the integrity commission’s decision to summon Zuma. “I’m not at liberty to talk about what happened at the integrity commission. I am not able to talk about everything that happened there.
“If I jump the queue and say things about the integrity commission, I will muddy the waters. I always make my point clear internally. In the NEC [national executive committee] I speak my mind. I am fearless when it comes to that. I don’t want to muddy waters in relation to other cases. But, if I have views and thoughts, I do make them clear,” he said.