President Jacob Zuma’s supporters have launched a fight-back after failing to block a scathing diagnostic report by the secretary general from being tabled at the party’s national policy conference this week, by attempting to discredit the report and questioning why the Gupta family was singled out.
The Mail & Guardian has also reliably learnt that Zuma himself objected to certain sections of the diagnostic report during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last week.
The report, authored by secretary general Gwede Mantashe, placed much of the blame for declining electoral support and public confidence on Zuma’s scandals. These include the Constitutional Court judgement on Nkandla, the Spy Tapes and state capture, which implicates Zuma’s family friends, the Guptas.
In the NEC meeting last Tuesday, Zuma objected to the use of the word “decline” when describing electoral support, and to Mantashe saying the ANC “lost” the 2016 local government elections in Nelson Mandela Bay, Johannesburg and Tshwane.
The president’s allies Nathi Mthethwa and Kebby Maphatsoe also objected to the report being tabled at the policy conference.
During his opening address to the conference at Nasrec on Friday, Zuma spoke broadly about the phenomenon of state capture and the ANC’s “significant setback” during the elections, but failed to mention the Gupta family. He said the party should spend more time on solutions, not lingering on diagnosis.
The M&G revealed on Friday night that an attempt to prevent the report from being discussed was defeated after being tabled by Mpumalanga and supported by KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State provinces.
On Sunday deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa told journalists: “This was a document approved by the NEC. Initially some of the delegates said no, maybe it should not be presented and finally, it was agreed that it should be presented.”
Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile on Sunday backed Mantashe’s decision to single out the Gupta family in the report.
“That is the reality of our situation, and he’s not saying that there are no other families that might be trying to influence leaders of the ANC. I think he was right to raise it in that manner.”
He said delegates who opposed the report were persuaded to allow it, and indicated their intention to continue the debate in the commissions.
“We are in a situation where the ANC is in trouble, so it can’t be business as usual. We can’t just talk about policy. Let’s fix the organisation. And the majority of delegates were for that, and the others who were raising it said no, it’s fine, we’ve been persuaded, let the SG table it and then we will have discussion in the commissions,” he told the M&G.
Eastern Cape ANC chairperson Phumulo Masualle said the fact that the debate around the state of the ANC started off with a disagreement would not derail unity talks.
“We work together to unite the organisation and of course we will proceed from that, from different poles at times, and that’s natural for an organisation as big as ours. But what’s important is that we’ve got to converge and move in a singular direction,” he said on the sidelines of conference.
Treasurer general Zweli Mkhize said all of the specific allegations of wrongdoing by specific ministers, government staff or ANC members related to state capture, which were highlighted in Mantashe’s report, should be dealt with by the judicial commission of inquiry.
He said the policy conference should only deal with the weaknesses in the ANC.
“There are over 4 000 delegates at conference; they have been broken down into 11 groups. All of them must discuss that issue and other issues around the question of the weaknesses and the tendencies that need to be corrected inside the organisation. That’s how I think we must deal with it,” said Mkhize.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party would not comment on matters under discussion in commissions, but a resolution on the diagnosis would be taken on Tuesday.