South Africa’s ruling ANC suffers fresh upheavals

Protesters call on Jacob Zuma to resign amid party outcry over minister’s statement

Disgruntled members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party demonstrate near party headquarters, demanding the resignation of President Jacob Zuma and the national executive committee, on Monday. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

Disgruntled members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party demonstrate near party headquarters, demanding the resignation of President Jacob Zuma and the national executive committee, on Monday. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

 

The internal divisions destabilising the African National Congress have again come to the fore, with powerful party members criticising the movement’s leadership and a cabinet minister caught lying in an official public statement.

As hundreds of ANC protesters marched on the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday calling for President Jacob Zuma and the national executive committee to resign, the ANC said mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane must be dealt with for his dishonesty.

On Friday, Mr Zwane issued a statement saying cabinet had resolved to set up a judicial inquiry into the banks that had closed the Gupta family’s accounts over the past few months over allegations their companies were involved in numerous dodgy deals linked to the state.

Shortly afterwards the presidency announced Mr Zwane’s statement “was issued in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the task team or cabinet . . . he does not speak on behalf of cabinet.”

Even Mr Zwane’s spokesman, Martin Madlala, later confirmed to radio station 702 that this boss’s utterances were not a cabinet decision.

Mr Zwane is allegedly an ally of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, who stand accused of using their close relationship with Mr Zuma to illegally secure government contracts, as well as to offer top government posts to ANC members in return for business favours.

Last week the Guptas announced that they were selling their South African businesses because of the fallout from the allegations that were made public last March, although they have yet to announce any specific sales that have gone through.

The ANC has described Mr Zwane’s actions as “appalling” and “outrageous” because his statement sent the markets into an unnecessary tailspin, with investors getting worried the government wanted to undermine the independence of financial institutions.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said: “His statement suggests that there could be other people outside of government that influence him and hence this outrageous conduct.”

As the fallout from Mr Zwane’s statement began to settle over the weekend, three senior ANC members who are close to power wrote articles in which they lamented the state of the ANC under its current leadership.

On Saturday, Gauteng province’s ANC leader Paul Mashatile gave a speech in which he said the party is “riddled with all the wrong and alien tendencies of institutionalised factionalism, crippling divisions, spiralling ill-discipline, despicable arrogance and inexplicable denialism”.

In the Sunday Times, former ANC chief whip Dr Mathole Motshekga, once an ardent defender of Mr Zuma’s, wrote that the ruling party has been captured by a faction with no capacity to lead government and no respect for internal democracy.

In the rival City Press newspaper, former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu wrote that in the ANC there are essentially two camps: “One is thriving on corruption, arrogance, corrosion of values of the organisation and its traditions, internal fraud and manipulation of all systems. It subscribes to personalities who in turn provide ‘protection’ and allow the rot to take root.”