/ 30 January 2024

MK party insists Zuma is still an ANC member, despite his suspension

Jacob Zuma 23
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Mlungisi Louw/Getty Images)

Despite ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula announcing on Monday evening that the national executive committee (NEC) had suspended Jacob Zuma’s membership after he formed the breakaway uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, the new movement insisted he was still a loyal member of the governing party.

Mbalula told a media briefing at the ANC’s lekgotla that the NEC had unanimously voted to suspend Zuma after failed attempts to reconcile with the former president.

“The NEC concluded that exceptional circumstances exist to justify and warrant an immediate decision to suspend former ANC president JG Zuma in line with rule 25.60  of the party,” Mbalula said.

But MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela told the Mail & Guardian that as far as he knew, Zuma was still a member of the ANC.

“We have seen social media reports of him being suspended but at this stage he remains a member of the ANC, as he stated previously,” Ndhlela said, adding that Zuma had not received communication from the ANC about the matter.

Ndhlela said he could not comment on whether Zuma would challenge the move.

Mbalula said the ANC’s rule 25.60 enabled the party to suspend members if justifiable exceptional circumstances warranted an immediate decision of temporary suspension without eliciting the comment or response of the members in question.

He said the ANC would inform Zuma of the decision. “We have begun doing so from the secretary general’s office.” 

Zuma’s suspension comes after he announced that he would vote with the MK party, which made its public debut in Soweto on 16 December last year, but would remain a member of the ANC. The day, known since 1995 as the Day of Reconciliation to bring about healing in the country, marks the anniversary of the establishment of the ANC’s uMkhonto weSizwe armed wing in 1961 and the Battle of Blood River in 1838.

At the launch, Zuma declared that he would not support the ANC because it had failed the people of South Africa. But even then, Zuma reiterated his continued membership in the ANC. 

Mbalula said despite calls for the party to expel Zuma, it would follow the correct processes to let him go. “Expulsion is the last resort; if expulsion has to come, it will result from the process. When you deal with an erratic member, you can’t think about the person’s gratification. It’s no longer about Zuma but the ANC.

The M&G understands that the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership pushed for Zuma to be expelled rather than suspended. The provincial leaders had previously been strong supporters of the former president, often visiting him at his Nkandla home to seek “wisdom”. 

Provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo is said to be leading the charge against Zuma, whose presidency he recently said had harmed the ANC.

Mbalula downplayed KwaZulu-Natal’s calls for Zuma’s expulsion. 

“They contributed to this discussion and it was a unanimous decision that we must take this decision and it didn’t take us day and night to arrive at this conclusion,” he said.