Zuma on Thursday spoke in Durban at a political event held in his honour after many weeks of silent retreat in his Nkandla home.
He spoke against what he said was the national executive committee’s (NEC) recent decision to purge the “radical economic transformation (RET)” grouping and asked ANC branches to hold the party’s leaders to account.
“There is a resolution called RET that we took at the Nasrec conference. The ANC, the people who love it and those that are the [RET] force, are now being purged. These are the people popularising the resolution but the ANC says ‘no, let’s kick them out’. How are the branches quiet?” Zuma told South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) members.
He also called on the alliance partners and the party’s youth structures to hold the NEC to account.
Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said ANC members should not associate themselves with or be involved in the RET grouping.
ANC leaders have called the group a splinter of the ANC working from Magashule’s office. Eastern Cape secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said the RET grouping was not just another faction in the ANC but would, like the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Congress of the People, emerge to take on the ruling party at the polls.
Fury over the grouping intensified when uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus, who also works in Magashule’s office, wrote a manifesto, called Radical Economic Transformation: a Basic Document, with the subtitle, Unpacking RET in Alignment to the Freedom Charter. The document calls for the party to return to its socialist ideological orientation, stating that there cannot be organisational renewal without a recommitment to that approach.
Zuma, who sang the grouping’s praises on Thursday, said branches had been given the NEC resolutions to implement. “How can we say we are effective branches if we don’t hold the leadership to account. It’s branches who have put them there. Branches do not use their powers. We elect someone to lead us and he ends up controlling us.”
Zuma then added: “People have been taught the love of money. People just drop bags of money for votes. Comrades, don’t vote to advance the ANC anymore.”
The Mail & Guardian this week reported how Magashule, as he ran out of options against the step-aside resolution, had visited his most senior ally, Zuma, to ask for help in mobilising support, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, after the secretary general failed to galvanise branches and provinces.
Magashule and others charged in the courts were given 30 days to step aside from their party positions or face suspension from the ANC. Magashule has no intention of following the NEC’s directive, sources close to him told the M&G.