/ 28 November 2016

Ace Magashule to ministers who called for Zuma’s removal: Step down or get axed

Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
Free State Premier Ace Magashule.

Free State Premier and ANC provincial chairman Ace Magashule wants ministers and deputy ministers who supported a motion for president Jacob Zuma to step down to resign or be shown the door. 

The motion for Zuma to resign, which took many ANC leaders by surprise, was first tabled by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom at the party’s national executive committee meeting at St Georges Hotel outside Pretoria on Saturday. The motion was supported by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, his deputy Joe Phaahla, Rural Development deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi among others. 

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Magashule, a close Zuma ally, was amongst those who defended the embattled ANC president. He suggested that those who supported a motion against him, should voluntarily resign from their positions in cabinet and the executive or be kicked out as it would be difficult for them to serve under someone whom they have lost confidence in. Magashule told ANC leaders he had served under two ANC presidents – Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki and had never come across a situation where ministers would push a motion of no confidence against someone who has appointed them. He told Zuma not to allow such a situation under his leadership and that he must remove those who supported the motion from his cabinet and the executive. 

But Magashule’s suggestion was seemingly shot down by many including Zuma’s supporters such as Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu, according to an NEC member who attended the meeting. Most of Zuma’s supporters were attending Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina’s wedding in Cape Town on Saturday when the motion was tabled but they came out with guns blazing on Sunday, saying the motion for Zuma to step down would set a bad precedence within the ANC. 

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Led by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, the Zuma supporters successfully argued against voting on the motion to force Zuma to step down. Gigaba, who has served as an ANC NEC member for over 15 years, argued that party voting on important matters was a foreign culture to the ANC. He convinced NEC members not to resort to voting at the expense of debating issues. Others who defended Zuma, include deputy Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Kebby Mapatsoe, Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Mapatsoe is said to have singled out Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile – asking him on whose mandate was he supporting the motion because the recent provincial general council affirmed its support for Zuma. 

Some NEC members such as Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana raised concerns about the implication of the motion on cabinet positions and party unity. Zokwana is also chairman of the South African Communist Party (SACP), which has lately been critical of president Zuma. The NEC meeting was extended to Monday to allow members to find a lasting solution to the challenges facing the governing party. Presidential Zuma’s convoy arrived at the St Georges Hotel for the meeting shortly after 9am and was followed by that of deputy president Ramaphosa. The ANC was expected to make an announcement about the outcome of the meeting late on Monday.

Whatever the outcome of the ANC NEC’s meeting, Zuma will emerge weakened given that a significant number of NEC members have seemingly lost confidence in him.