An East London ANC branch has broken ranks with its provincial leaders and called on President Jacob Zuma to quit.
The provincial executive had earlier accepted Zuma’s apology on his handling of the public protector’s recommendation on the Nkandla matter.
Ward 28 ANC branch chairman Zolile Mkatala confirmed yesterday that his Nokhalime Thomas branch in Beacon Bay at a meeting on Monday resolved that the ANC must “release” Zuma as he “has shamed the organisation”.
Two more ANC branches in East London have also challenged the national ANC leadership, stating if Zuma was to be forgiven, then the same rules needed to be applied to suspended Buffalo City ANC regional secretary Pumlani Mkolo.
The position is in contrast to an earlier decision by the Phumulo Masualle-led provincial executive committee (PEC) last week, in which the leaders declared their overwhelming support for Zuma and his “courage” to apologise.
The apology followed a Constitutional Court ruling which found that Zuma failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution as the supreme law of the land.
Makatala made reference to the ANC constitution’s clause 3.7, which describes the character of the party as being guided by “the principle of freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information”.
“We therefore encouraged our members at the [Monday] meeting to express their views freely. The meeting resolved that the president has put the organisation into shame, and therefore internal processes have to be followed to release him,” Makatala said. The branch is also in the process of writing a letter to the ANC regional executive (REC), in which it is calling for a regional general council “where branch delegates will be afforded time to discuss the matter at length”.
“We want all branches to express their views as the RGC. We won’t allow a top-down approach. Branches must interrogate this at RGC level and come up with a position,” Makatala said.
A day after the branch took the decision that Zuma must step down, two more BCM ANC branches – ward 19 in Parkside and ward 45 in Ndevana – made their voices heard.
The branch leaders attended a special meeting at the East London City Hall convened by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, where they said Zuma’s apology would be accepted on condition Mkolo be reinstated.
The ANC’s integrity committee found Mkolo guilty of bringing the party into disrepute for his alleged involvement in the Nelson Mandela memorial scandal.
He was suspended as regional secretary two months ago.
Tabling the motion at a packed city hall on Tuesday, Ayanda Matinise of ward 45 argued that all ANC members be treated equally.
The view was supported by ANC East London zone leader Sindile Toni. However, ANC national executive committee member Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula called for cool heads, saying it was important to defend the ANC and “not individualise” issues.
Contacted for comment yesterday to explain what they meant by this, Toni referred all enquiries to action regional secretary Mkhawuleli Maleki, who said: “In summary, the meeting agreed to accept the approach of the NWC [national working committee] on the matter, and the meeting accepted the president’s apology”.
The cracks are starting to show across provinces on the matter as national leaders try to engage branches and make them understand why they accepted Zuma’s apology.
Only the Gauteng ANC PEC has so far stood in unison, and called for Zuma “to do the right thing” against the NWC’s call for full support for Zuma.
It remains unclear what Gauteng meant by “the right thing”.
Matinise could not be reached for comment by the time of writing.
National ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa could not be reached for comment either.