Political analyist Ralph Mathekga explains why it is difficult to recall President Zuma
Kaya FM’s Desk Editor, Pitso Molemane, sat down with Independent Political Analyst, Ralph Mathekga. They talked about why it was easy for the ANC National Executive Committee to remove former President Thabo Mbeki but difficult to recall current President Jacob Zuma.
Pitso Molemane: In September 2008, with about nine months left in his second term, President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC). It did not take much to show Mbeki the door, the question on everyone’s lips now is why is it so difficult for the NEC to do the same with President Jacob Zuma?
Ralph Mathekga: Things are different now compared to the tenure of President Mbeki. When President Mbeki was removed he was no longer the president of the ANC. You didn’t actually have to get a complete mandate from the branches of the party. You were just firing the President of the country. Currently, the ANC NEC cannot technically remove the President of the party, who is also the president of the country. There is a lengthy process that needs to be followed now. But regarding the removal of President Jacob Zuma, you will have to get that mandate because you are not only removing the President of the country but that of the ANC as well. There are lengthy procedures that you must follow to remove the president of the ANC. The NEC cannot actually fire the president of the ANC. They can have a motion. But they still need to take that motion to the branches. And those who are against President Zuma want to take short cuts; they don’t want to follow that lengthy process to remove him.
Pitso Molemane: But then why is this group of NEC members led by Derek Hanekom not following these lengthy processes. Hanekom tabled a motion of no confidence against President Zuma this weekend, using the wrong platform?
Ralph Mathekga: I’ve got a feeling that they are well aware that when it comes to what is happening on the ground within the ANC, it will be a difficult task to undertake. I think their aim is to try to persuade the president to step down through this vote at the NEC level. A lot will depend on how he feels about it. If they push him, he can throw the party into a serious crisis. If they remove him through the NEC, it could actually cause a civil war within the party. His allies can call a special congress where they can overturn a decision to remove him.
Pitso Molemane: The ANC constitution says at least five provinces must request a special conference before the party’s national executive committee can convene one. And only an elective conference can elect a new ANC president and recall the National Executives.
Ralph Mathekga: I am not aware of the five provinces that have raised their hands to say remove President Zuma. And I think one of the reasons why people push this at the NEC level is because they are avoiding using the broader processes within the party. Because they know that if you are going to use provinces there might be resistance. Provinces that might be against this include North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. And I think those who want to persuade his removal at the NEC level are aware that balance of forces at the branch level might not favour them.
Pitso Molemane: In closing all eyes are at the Saint George Conference Centre in Pretoria. Millions of South Africans are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the ANC NEC meeting. How do you see that meeting ending?
Ralph Mathekga : I think this is positive in the sense that at least the question of President Jacob Zuma’s leadership is being reflected upon openly by his colleagues within the ANC NEC. They have put it on the agenda. He knows that maybe it’s now just ordinary people out there who want him out but his comrades are willing to challenge him as well. But regarding the ultimate goal that this meeting is intending at, I think that people might need to hold back slightly. That will not happen. So it is positive that there is a reflection within the ANC. Perhaps this is going to influence how the ANC will think about its leadership in the next elective conference, which will be held in December 2017.
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