The ANC must protect their own.
That's the message from the newly-elected ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal who want the party’s top brass to review a decision that members should attend former president Jacob Zuma’s court case in their personal capacity.
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told the media in Durban on Wednesday that the recently held 8th provincial conference had mandated the ANC provincial executive committee to engage with the national executive committee on Zuma’s ongoing legal case.
“The conference was of the firm view that while all ANC members must comply and respect the decision of the NEC‚ in relation to support offered to comrades facing legal challenges‚ it was important for the province to share its own experience on the implementation of that decision‚” said Ntuli.
In March this year‚ the NEC issued a statement warning members about "creating the false impression that the ANC as organisation identifies with‚ or approves of‚ the misdemeanours of which any member or leader may be accused".
Ntuli said ANC leadership wanted to engage the NEC about the difficulty of attending Zuma’s court case in their own individual capacities as this meant that they had no control over people who shared the same public platform with the former president usually after his court appearance.
“We want to engage with the national leadership to share our own experiences and the difficulty of having to take a day off from your political responsibility and address a platform of people who are coming to support the former president with other people who do not belong to the ANC‚” said Ntuli.
One of the challenges‚ he said‚ was that some of those people were not ANC members and promoted their own interests and organisations.
“Even if we are uncomfortable with some of the assertions they make‚ we don't have authority and legitimacy to correct them using the platform of our own movement and yet this is a former president of the ANC.
“So our view is that this is not about undermining the decision of the NEC but also to say when you take a decision‚ you have an obligation to assess the implementation of that decision and if there are complications‚ you then have to guide the affected comrades on how to navigate what appears to be a difficult situation.”
Zuma’s court appearances appear to have been hijacked by elements outside the ANC such as the Black First Land First‚ whose leader Andile Mgxitama seems to enjoy a good relationship with the former ANC leader.
During his court appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court last Friday‚ Zuma stunned many when he encouraged people to vote for Mgxitama “because he wants to resolve issues speedily”.
“I heard many say they will vote for Mgxitama. Mgxitama is OK‚ he has no problems‚ he is right but not for the reasons you are stating. This is a clear political line‚ you can’t not vote for the wrong party. Vote this man because he wants issues to be resolved speedily‚" Zuma said.
But the ANC leadership in the province has defended Zuma’s call for people to vote for Mgxitama‚ saying it was taken out of context.
“Those who were in court understood the context of what he said. We may not be 100% that a name of some person was mentioned in the way that it was mentioned. But it’s always important to read events in context‚ and not in isolation because if you read them in isolation the possibility of sensationalism is going to be.
“It would be unthinkable for JZ in any stage of his life........ to begin campaigning on behalf of any other political party. I think none of us in the ANC can ever entertain that kind of an imagination that the former president can campaign for any other political party except for the ANC.”
New provincial ANC spokeswoman Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said Zuma was not saying people must go and vote for another party but had told them to vote for the ANC and mobilise for the ANC.
“And then he just said in passing that those who want to vote for any other party they must do so because it is within their right to do so‚” she said.
Ntuli also defended Zuma‚ saying he could not decide who supported him or not during his court case.
“When you are under a difficult situation people from all walks of life may decide to support you and I think it will be unfair for us to expect the former president to say ‘yes I am going through a very difficult period but I don’t want to be supported’. I think it will be very difficult for him to go out and say “I want to determine those who support me’.
“I think what should be the question that the ANC has to deal with is‚ how does the ANC ensure that it assumes leadership of any organised or unorganised platform in our country?. Whether that platform is a platform in the legal case of the former president or any other platform‚ the ANC as the leader of society has a responsibility to permeate throughout society. And there must not be organised people in our country who are pursuing any course without reflecting the aspirations of the ANC.”