After surviving an unparalleled attack on his leadership of the ANC, a defiant President Jacob Zuma has told the party’s national executive committee (NEC) that stepping down would be like handing himself over to the enemy and he would never do it.
According to Zuma, his enemies wants him jailed and he would never allow that to happen.
Zuma addressed the NEC following a grueling three-day battle over his future, initiated by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. The meeting, scheduled to end on Sunday, was extended to Monday as opposing sides failed to reach consensus.
The NEC deliberated on Zuma’s fate following a “surprise” motion by Hanekom on Saturday that the party’s highest decision-making body recalls the president or that he steps down.
“The president told us that he will never step down, as it would be like handing himself over to the enemy, and that there are people who want to see him in jail and they will never stop,” an NEC member revealed.
Zuma told the NEC that attempts against him have been long in the making, dating back to former president Thabo Mbeki’s era.
Mbeki sacked Zuma as deputy president of the country on 14 June 2005, weeks after Zuma was implicated in the corruption and fraud of his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.
“The president told us these attempts come from far and that if he was the problem, he would consider stepping down. But Nkandla, corruption charges and the spy tapes were created by the enemy,” the NEC source said.
Zuma had to pay back R7.8 million to the state for the Nkandla upgrades after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had failed to uphold the Constitution. Zuma declined to implement former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action that he pay back the money spent on upgrades to his Nkandla home.
A source inside the NEC meeting said there was no voting on the motion as Zuma’s supporters had regrouped and were on “fire defending him”. They had felt “ambushed” on Saturday as they did not expect Hanekom’s motion. But on Monday they are said to have dominated the “long speaker’s list”.
Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane apparently spoke out against the motion, while former National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu strongly pushed for a consultative ANC conference to be held.
This follows meetings by more than a hundred party stalwarts with the ANC’s national working committee including Zuma last week, calling for a consultative conference to rebuild the party
It is unclear whether Sisulu’s call succeeded. While one NEC member said calls for a consultative conference were completely rejected, some of Zuma’s supporters appeared willing to consider a compromise. One proposal is that next year’s policy conference be extended to focus on rebuilding the organisation.
Indications that Zuma was winning the battle emerged late on Monday afternoon when he left the NEC meeting to meet with his Ugandan counterpart Yuweri Museveni. He is due to travel to Cuba on Tuesday to attend the funeral of late President Fidel Castro.