Vote deepens ANC divisions

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has fiercely defended the party’s decision to discipline MPs opposed to President Jacob Zuma, despite a widely held view that they are the true champions of the party’s values.

Mantashe, who has come under fire from the anti-Zuma group for “scoring own goals”, told City Press that he was “not going to use his position as secretary-general to bargain for a position” at the upcoming the national elective conference in December.

He said he would not abuse his office to serve a faction.

On Tuesday Mantashe said the ANC national executive committee (NEC) had taken a decision to act against rebel MPs who supported the opposition’s motion to remove Zuma from office.

The three MPs – identified by those in the pro-Zuma group as Makhosi Khoza, Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom – were expected to be called to account before the party’s national disciplinary committee (NDC).

“We know of the vocal ones but others ... it is tough because the vote was secret. Some of them we know, the problem is in the proof,” said someone in the pro-Zuma group.

The ANC NEC is expected to meet tomorrow in KwaZulu-Natal, where a proposal for a special NEC meeting on the matter will be tabled because “the next scheduled meeting in September is too far”, said insiders.

uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) president Kebby Maphatsoe, a staunch Zuma backer, said ANC MP Mondli Gungubele should also be removed as chairperson of the party’s disciplinary committee in Gauteng.

Gungubele had been outspoken about his opposition to Zuma but subsequently laid low after the Gauteng ANC advised him to desist from making public comments.

The MKMVA also wanted an investigation to determine who voted against Zuma and for those found guilty to be charged and suspended pending the outcome of a disciplinary process.

In his political report at the association’s NEC meeting yesterday Maphatsoe also called for Hanekom to be removed as chair of the NDC.

ANC Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba accused some officials of operating “like loose cannons”.

“For me, people who are irresponsible are those who like fame – populists of the worst kind – because they raise issues in the media.

"Once you go into bed with the enemy and the enemy starts to elevate you and applauds you, you must begin to do introspection if that is in the best interest of the ANC.”

However, Matuba suggested that instead of these “comrades” being expelled, they should be rehabilitated.

“The process of discipline in the ANC should not be a process that is so harsh that it results in people being axed from the ANC,” she said.

But, she said, “if people have to pack up and go and form a new movement because they are working with organisations like Save SA, they must go peacefully instead of tearing the organisation apart”.

Disciplinary action

The anti-Zuma lobby insisted that the proposed disciplinary action exposed inconsistencies in the ANC as several officials had transgressed the party’s rules on many occasions, and cited Zuma as the chief offender.

“Why do you persecute the individuals who are standing up for the right thing? The real rebels are those individuals involved in nefarious activities,” said a Zuma critic.

“You must look at what the principles and values of the ANC are. Who are the people trying to live by them? Who are the people violating them, and what is happening to them?”

Mantashe said the ANC had not identified MPs who would be disciplined and that those who were throwing names around were “imagining things”.

He said “the ANC gave people leeway until a certain point, and there comes a time when it has to draw the line and take action”.

He said the party could not jump and discipline officials every time they said something wrong and that “sometimes it quietly called the culprits in and showed them the error of their actions”.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said no one had been charged.

“The [national working committee] agreed, firstly, that we must talk to the MPs who publicly announced that they voted with the opposition,” he said.

Secondly, he said, “the ANC will decide on the next step to take based on their submission”.

He said “no names were given except to say there were three MPs who came out after voting”.

Mantashe said MPs would not be asked to explain themselves as some of them had publicly declared their positions.

He also said “the ANC will not launch a witch-hunt and seek to find out how people voted during the motion of no confidence”.

Only those who told the party to “go to hell”, even after it had given instructions, would face disciplinary action, he said.

Those sympathetic to the dissident MPs said Mantashe was “scoring own goals by granting the Zuma faction its wishes”.