Pinning down the President

TAKING REINS: Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: MASI LOSI
TAKING REINS: Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: MASI LOSI

The ANC is finally in position to pin down President Jacob Zuma and now has the ability to hold him accountable and recall him from office.

With Cyril Ramphosa’s election as ANC president, Zuma holds no position or authority in the party and therefore will cease to be as indomitable as he has been.

With the ANC’s integrity commission (IC) being given binding powers by the ANC’s 54th national conference, Zuma will no longer be able to dismiss the party’s internal accountability mechanism and can face disciplinary action.

The ANC has resolved that the new national executive committee (NEC) should “manage” the issue of two centres of power as Zuma is no longer both the party and state president.

Presenting the conference resolutions to the media yesterday, the head of the organisational renewal subcommittee, Fikile Mbalula, said the ANC was the centre of power and would give direction and mandates to its deployees in the state.

This effectively means that Ramaphosa and the new NEC have authority over Zuma, and he is compelled to implement what they instruct him to do.

If he fails to do so, they have the power to recall him from office.

Mbalula said the resolution on the management of two centres of power did not automatically mean that a recall was in store. But if the issue did come up, the new NEC was empowered to recall him, as had been the case with Thabo Mbeki in 2008.

The situation now is even more difficult as Ramaphosa is Zuma’s deputy in the state while holding political authority in the party.

Mbalula said the conference had also resolved that there should be a cap on the number of NEC members serving in the state. This would improve accountability to the party.

The ANC had not, however, stipulated the exact number of NEC members who could serve in cabinet.

This resolution reduces the president’s hold on the NEC, with so many of them beholden to him for their positions in cabinet.

Mbalula said the national conference resolved that a commission of inquiry into state capture, as recommended by the public protector and confirmed by the North Gauteng High Court, needed to be appointed “expeditiously”.

Zuma’s failure to do this would mean he was defying an ANC national conference resolution, providing grounds for a recall.

The IC has tried in vain to hold Zuma accountable for bringing the party into disrepute. With its powers now strengthened, “final and binding”, it can confer disciplinary charges against the president.

But not only Zuma may be affected by the new ANC IC. Several high-profile Eastern Cape politicians may be off the hook – or in deeper hot water – now that the national conference has approved the organisational renewal and design subcommittee’s resolution to give the IC constitutionally mandated “final and binding” decisions.

Mbalula said those who has been suspended by the then “toothless” IC may be now called to appear before a new one that “will bite”, as those suspensions can now be finalised or rescinded.

In the Eastern Cape, this is going to affect the likes of suspended Buffalo City ANC regional secretary Pumlani Mkolo and former Amathole district mayor Nomasikizi Konza who are both among those who have been suspended by the ANC IC.

They were suspended for their alleged involvement in fraud and corruption in separate cases.

Mbalula said the ANC IC would be appointed by the NEC but would be “independent and will not recommend but will make findings”.

Said Mbalula: “You do not recommend – you take decisions after having accessed the integrity of this comrade. We think that the following must apply to reduce what he had caused to the movement.

“We are giving the integrity commission more powers to bite and not ask permission from us about our own integrity. They must be decisive, independent and implement decisions if reputational damage is brought to the ANC.”

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