The mood in the ANC has shifted, with the party now hoping to ‘convince’ Zuma to stop having a go at them.
The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported that they spoke to an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member sympathetic to President Cyril Ramaphosa who revealed the president feels his “authority is being questioned” by former president Jacob Zuma.
The article examined concerns in the ANC by some in the NEC who feel Zuma now needs to be “convinced” to speak out against those who use his appearances at the High Court in Durban to attack the ANC.
Zuma’s next appearance to face charges on corruption related to the arms deal will be on July 27.
His two previous court appearances saw his supporters denouncing the ANC and even calling for Zuma to lead a new political party. While Zuma has publicly said he won’t be leaving the ANC, he has not reprimanded those who’ve spoken out against the ANC. ANC members have also defied a party instruction not to appear in ANC colours or in an ANC capacity in support of Zuma during his court appearances.
Other parties such as Black First Land First have appeared in their numbers with Zuma in what appears to be an attempt to woo the support of disgruntled ANC voters ahead of next year’s election.
The M&G further reports that NEC members Ronald Lamola and Zizi Kodwa are among those who want Zuma to be reasoned with, as an anonymous NEC member was quoted as saying it looked as though Zuma was endorsing the attacks on the ANC, and this could hurt the party and benefit the opposition.
Zuma himself has previously applauded speakers critical of the ANC and also threatened to expose the secrets and corruption of members of the tripartite alliance if he is “provoked”.
The ANC appeared to change tack on Zuma this week. Instead of trying to distance itself from him, the party this week confirmed Zuma would play an important role in campaigning in next year’s elections despite alliance partners being up in arms about it.
In an interview with French broadcaster France24, Ramaphosa earlier this week also reaffirmed what he saw as Zuma’s commitment to the ANC.
“I have complete faith and confidence that president Zuma will remain a member of the ANC until the last day of his life in this world,” the president said. “The ANC is in his blood, and I don’t ever see him turning against the organisation that made him what he is.”
Ramaphosa’s statement about Zuma’s loyalty came amid recurring reports of a breakaway political party that may be launched by Zuma’s followers.
ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula also confirmed Zuma’s central role in the elections campaign. He said fixing divisions in ANC structures would be a priority, and it was likely that mending fences with the Zuma faction would be a part of this.
The M&G also reported that Zuma’s supporters believe, rightly or wrongly, that parliament’s high-level panel recommendation to dissolve the Ingonyama Trust overseen by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini is linked to the perceived persecution of Zuma.
Zuma and the king are known to have a close relationship.