Former president Jacob Zuma is living on borrowed time as a member of the governing ANC as a strong lobby group pushes for his immediate suspension this weekend.
The recommendation has already enjoyed the endorsement of the powerful ANC National Working Committee (NWC), which sets the agenda for the National Executive Committee (NEC) sitting this weekend. It is expected that Zuma’s fate will be sealed this morning after the proceedings were postponed yesterday due to the death of NEC member Violet Siwela. He will likely be given two weeks to respond to the suspension.
The NWC cited the party’s rule that prohibits ANC members from joining or supporting a party or organisation whose goals, objectives or policies are contrary to those of the ANC.
The rule decrees that a member, office bearer, or public representative who conducts himself in such a manner shall be subject to disciplinary action. After Friday’s first day of proceedings, the NEC members told Sunday World that Zuma had become the elephant in the room since he began campaigning for the Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) Party.
As insiders point out, Zuma’s clinging to the ANC while campaigning for MK hurt the ANC rather than saving it, so disciplinary measures would effectively isolate him.
Sunday World learned that Bheki Mtolo, the fiery ANC KZN provincial secretary who has been publicly criticising Zuma at every chance he gets, supported the proposed solution to the party’s Zuma headache.
“What Zuma is doing to the ANC while the party folds its arms infuriates Bheki Mtolo. He is the main proponent of those pushing for the party to act against Zuma as it does on many others who have used the ANC’s name for their selfish gains,” said an NEC member who attended the meeting.
“Dlangamandla (Mtolo) is understandably angry because Zuma is most likely to be a big factor in the ANC retaining or losing power in KZN in the coming elections. Additionally, the majority of the NEC concur with his viewpoints because we cannot stand by and let Zuma run amok. Zuma’s suspension is a matter of when, not if, because it will happen soon.”
Another NEC leader in the top hierarchy said “Zuma was nothing special hence the NEC has agreed he must be disciplined, adding that the ANC’s mistake of defending him during past scandals might have given him the impression that he is “a platinum member”.
“Zuma is a member like any other ANC member who joined a branch, and he cannot be treated differently. He cannot walk around saying he is an ANC member while campaigning for the opposition; the ANC constitution is very clear on such misconduct,” said our mole. The informant said the NEC members agreed that many councillors throughout history had been shown the door for going to bed with opposition parties in municipal councils.
“Others have tried to be independent candidates while claiming they are still ANC, which is similar to Zuma’s case. They were shown the door after disciplinary action.
“Why must Zuma be treated differently? If the sanction after that process is expulsion, logic follows that he must be expelled.”
An NWC leader said the ANC had caused problems for itself by not acting swiftly on disciplining Zuma. However, he said acting now is better than waiting until after the elections. “Non-action hurts the ANC because ordinary ANC supporters on the streets will believe Zuma is still an ANC member. They will assume that their vote for the MK Party is a vote for the ANC, which is not the case. So, the ANC must be seen to distance itself from Zuma so that he can fully become MK Party member.
“Confusion will be cleared, and all ANC ranks will know he is not one of us.”
The informant said Zuma was an influential leader, but NEC members felt this influence was sometimes exaggerated, and “this allowed him to get away with murder”.
Another insider confirmed the appetite to expel Zuma.
“The main thing is that we do not want to make him a hero,” said the leader, adding that initially, the feeling was that the ANC should not act against him before the January 8 birthday celebrations.
“The NEC this weekend will endorse the recommendation calling for his suspension with immediate effect and offer him an opportunity to explain why he should not be taken through a disciplinary process.”
Zuma’s critics expect he will ignore the suspension letter and disciplinary process, just like former ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
“Then the disciplinary committee will meet.”