The leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal believes the party should not act against former president Jacob Zuma over his endorsement of Black First Land First (BLF) outside court last weekend.
They also want the governing party’s national executive committee (NEC) to reconsider its decision to distance the party from Zuma’s court appearances on corruption charges and take control of the platform they present to stop them being used by its rivals.
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and spokesperson Gugu Simelane-Zulu told a media briefing in Durban on Thursday that Zuma’s comments that people should vote for BLF president Andile Mngxitama needed to be “understood in context”.
Zuma made the comments while addressing supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where he was appearing on corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges.
Ntuli said while the province’s representatives at the NEC lekgotla earlier in the week had not been able to raise their request that the decision that party members attending court did so in their private capacity, they would still do so.
He said while the provincial conference agreed to abide by the NEC decision, “it was important for the province to share its own experience of the implementation of that decision.”
On Zuma’s relationship with the BLF, Ntuli said he did not believe Zuma was “closer” to BLF, which will contest next year’s national elections.
“When you are in a difficult situation, people from all walks of life decide to come and support you. It would be unfair of us to expect the former president to say… I don’t want to be supported by you,” he said.
Ntuli said the ANC had to ensure it “assumes leadership” of the situation outside court.
He said it would be “unthinkable” for Zuma to campaign for any other party.
“I am not aware that any member of the movement has approached him to say that the sentiments expressed were… not good for the movement.”
“We may not be 100% satisfied that the name of a certain person was mentioned. To elevate the that comment over and above all the other issues would be to create unnecessary internal strife in the movement. What we need now is the cohesion of all our forces,” Ntuli said.
Simelane-Zulu said Zuma’s comments were addressed to non-ANC members who had come out to support him and were made after he had called on people to vote for the ANC.