President Jacob Zuma’s supporters and dissenters in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) were set to square off on Saturday as the meeting discussed his leadership and calls for him to resign as head of state by its alliance partners and society.
Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the discussions would be difficult, and the 106 member body had cleared all the “soft issues” in anticipation of a heated debate on Zuma’s future.
“Today we are in the hard business of the NEC. We’ve already received the political overview by the president which covers quite a number of important and fundamental issues. We will be receiving the NWC [national working committee] report, which covers many issues, including issues that are very current,” Mantashe told journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, being held in Irene, Centurion.
Mantashe said the remaining two days of the meeting would see the leadership tackle the most pertinent issues confronting the party and the country, but noted that a direct motion for Zuma to be recalled as head of state, or asked to resign, was not on the agenda.
“It’s going to be quite hectic and quite heavy for the day and tomorrow… We are reading it on the newspapers that there is going to be blood on the floor. We’ve not seen that blood on the floor yet. Discussions are about to unfold but [the recall of Zuma] is not an agenda item,” he said.
Among the issues under discussion will be a public call for Zuma to resign from the ruling party, ANC allies Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), as well as a section of its veterans movement and the South African Council of Churches (SACC).
But Mantashe noted that the unprecedented move from its alliance partners would not dominate the meeting. The SACC, which released its own “Unbundling the State of Capture Report” on its website, would also not be discussed as an agenda item.
“We are referring to it as an issue under discussion. It would have been an item on the agenda if the SACC gave it to us and talked to us. Now we’ve downloaded it from their website, we’re reading it, we are dealing with it,” he said.
The secretary general confirmed that a proposal to open the succession debate, and allow its structures to freely speak about who they want to lead the organisation after the December conference, was heard and is being considered.
“We are going to phase two, that’s the proposal. It is allowing structures of the ANC to discuss names and link the names to principles, that’s what we are proposing. But nominations will be done in September,” he said.
On Thursday, the Mail and Guardian reported the Limpopo ANC would champion the proposal at the meeting, amid growing frustration with senior leaders canvassing for support in different provinces.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa also said that the NEC did not receive any petition from Northern Cape members to have the recent conference outcome nullified.
Supporters of Sylvia Lucas vowed to approach the NEC over the conference which elected Zamani Saul as chairperson, after the Northern Cape premier and her supporters withdrew over claims that delegates were not correctly verified.