Zuma gets full backing
- As calls for anti-Zuma marches are dismissed
- Party says confident with reshuffled cabinet
The ANC in the Free State and the ANC Youth League have dismissed as ill-advised, calls by the opposition and some civic organisations for President Jacob Zuma to step down, saying the ruling party had full confidence in its leader.
In what has been described as a misdirected and futile exercise, some senior ANC members last week joined the opposition and civic organisations and called on the president to resign after he reshuffled cabinet and the eventual downgrade of the country’s credit rating to junk status by rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P).
The unscheduled review that prompted a sell-off in South African assets saw the country’s currency losing about three percent of its value within a few hours as speculation rose over the cabinet reshuffle on Thursday night last week. It was eventually announced in a statement in the early hours of Friday.
Announcing its decision on Monday, S&P said its decision was based on what it called divisions in government that led to leadership changes, including the removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
ANC provincial spokesperson Thabo Meeko yesterday told The Weekly that the calls for the president to step down were aimed at derailing the party’s efforts for radical economic transformation.
ANCYL president Collen Maine praised Zuma for allowing young party members to take up leadership positions and said the ratings downgrade was just scare tactic by the west.
Meeko welcomed the position taken by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in bringing everyone in the party together following its meeting on Tuesday and putting their full support behind the president.
“We welcome the position taken by the NWC,” said Meeko in an interview.
“We thank the NWC for forging unity within the party. The ANC was formed to unite the people of South Africa, to defeat apartheid and bring in democracy and use that democracy to improve the lives of our people,” he added.
Meeko said discussions were allowed in the party and they should not be confused with fighting.
He noted the party believed in democratic processes because they allowed debate aimed at improving the organisation.
“We are very grateful with the NWC but the leadership regrets how things turned out as members spoke publicly about issues that could have been resolved in-house. We are therefore calling on our members to understand us so that we can move forward together.
“The ANC consciously gave President Zuma the powers to pick who he wants to work with. There are no super deployees in the ANC. Everyone who is deployed by the party is expected to perform their duties well and when asked to move, they should not be asking why.
Others should also be given a chance to serve the party and the people of South Africa. Leadership is for the people,” said Meeko.
The party’s spokesperson said the radical economic transformation being pursued by the ANC was not for the Guptas but for the people of South Africa and that all the noise was meant to bring confusion.
He urged party members not to take part in the anti-Zuma marches planned for today saying the protests won’t achieve anything.
“Zuma will remain party leader until December this year and as the country’s president until 2019. That is not going to change. We expected our efforts for radical economic change to ruffle some feathers but it must be understood that the move is not meant to disadvantage the whites but to redistribute resources more equitably,” Meeko emphasised.
Meeko said leaders in the party where chosen on the basis of programmes at hand. It was on that background that the cabinet reshuffle was undertaken.
According to Meeko, the party had confidence in the appointments and was confident that new finance minister Malusi Gigaba and others were equal to the task and would be able to execute their duties well.
He criticised people that had used the funeral of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada to launch their attacks on the party saying the late icon should be allowed to rest in peace and that people should not use his name to advance factional interests.
The Anglican Church on Sunday added its voice to calls for President Zuma to resign and urged organised protest action against him over the cabinet reshuffle.
Trade union federation Cosatu also called on Zuma to step down saying it no longer believed in his leadership abilities.
But Maine was adamant the president had shown that the older generation was prepared to allow the younger generation take up leadership roles.
“The president has demonstrated that the older generation is prepared to hand over power to the younger generation,” he said.
“Quite a number of the new ministers are from the youth league. We identify with them and it right that they were given those positions. Everywhere in the world, revolutions are led by young people and this move by the president to appoint young ministers is aimed at allowing us the youths to achieve economic freedom during our lifetime,” he added.
On the ratings downgrade, Maine said the country was not necessarily in a crisis and expected the economy to come out of the situation even stronger.
He pointed out that only one ratings agency out of the top three had downgraded the country and the decision had been arrived at before the appointment of Gigaba to treasury.
“The minister has committed to speak to the other rating agencies. We hope the markets and the agencies won’t interfere with our processes because we want to grow the economy. We believe this could be a scare tactic meant to intimidate us but that won’t work. Minister Gigaba has indicated that he is prepared to interact with everyone,” said youth leader.
Premier Ace Magashule said in a statement released yesterday by his spokesperson Tiisetso Makhele that he welcomed the cabinet reshuffle by the President.
He said he was content that after conducting necessary consultations and guided by his constitutional obligations, the President made informed changes in the cabinet.
“The Premier is confident that these changes made in our national cabinet shall improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government to implement its mandate as given to it by the electorate in the 2014 elections,” read part of the statement.
“The Premier is also confident that the changes made in the national cabinet will accelerate the attainment of radical economic transformation. As stated unequivocally in the Freedom Charter, the people must indeed share in the country’s wealth,” he added.
Magashule said together with the Free State Executive Council, he will continue to provide full support to the national executive as well as other spheres of government.
“Ours is a unitary state and we are of the belief that all spheres of government must work together to achieve the set objectives in the National Development Plan and other key strategies and plans of government. The Free State fully supports the reshuffling of the national cabinet,” the Premier said.