Sunday, July 9, 2017
ANC integrity group still wants Zuma out. By Terry Bell
Cape Town - The ANC’s high profile, but practically powerless Integrity Commission (IC), still wants President Jacob Zuma to step down. The commission members are angry that their six-page, 14-point report, giving reasons for their decision, has effectively been suppressed by the party’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe. The IC, chaired by former Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni, twice interviewed Zuma, and completed its report on May 21. It was handed to Mantashe in order for it to be tabled at the National Executive Committee meeting proceeding last week’s ANC policy conference.
The report was not tabled and when it became clear that the format of the policy conference would also preclude it being debated, several IC members referred to the fact that they had recommended that Zuma resign. Prominent among them was veteran Sindiso Mfenyana, a former secretary for education. But what the 14-member commission actually stated was that it was “unable to provide satisfactory responses to legitimate concerns about the President’s continued leadership of the ANC and the country”. This in reply to “a growing number of ANC members” who “question how it is possible for the President to remain in office when the Constitutional Court has found that he violated his oath of office”.
In a barely concealed allusion to Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family, the report notes: “Recent events have called into question the President’s judgement and led the Commission to ask from whence does the President take counsel”? When interviewed, Zuma rejected all charges against himself and “stated emphatically [to the IC] that he would not resign”. He also noted that several IC members were part of the “101 stalwarts” group that had already called for his resignation. This, Zuma said, brought into question the independence of the IC. He had been “judged prematurely”.
Given the opportunity to present his case, Zuma maintained that if he resigned it would amount to “a betrayal of our people and of our revolution”. He did not believe he could be held solely responsible for divisions in the ANC and pointed out that divisions existed under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki. This was evident in the run-up to the Polokwane conference that unseated Mbeki.
Zuma also claimed that, when, in exile, as head of the ANC’s intelligence department, he had been advised of plots to get rid of him. He knew now of “similar plots and threats”.
Confidential: The IC report notes that much of the evidence presented to substantiate these claims was confidential, but explains that “the essence of Zuma’s refusing to resign is his belief that there exists a conspiracy by Western governments to oust him as president of the ANC and of the country. Their objective is to replace him in order to capture the ANC.”
This explanation was rejected by the IC. Its report notes that Zuma “ignores the very real problems in the ANC, as evidenced by the rapid decline in support of the ANC”. The report also mentions that “recent developments within government have dented public and international confidence in the economy”; that corporate governance of some state-owned enterprises is in “complete shambles”; and that “public confidence in the ANC's ability to govern has been rudely shaken”.
Finally, the IC sees, as “a cause for alarm”, the “breakdown of the unity of the ANC and of the Alliance”. New and innovative ways, it says, “need to be found to rebuild unity and solidarity”. This in an effort to “regain the confidence and trust of all sections of the people of South Africa”. The IC includes among its members, former parliamentary Speaker, Frene Ginwala and former ANC treasurer, Mendi Msimang.