JOHANNESBURG – Former President Jacob Zuma was threatened with expulsion from the African National Congress to force his resignation.
Sources have told AfricaNews24-7 that a plan was hatched to get him out of the party completely if he had decided to stick around and have Members of Parliament recall him. According to the sources, the charge was spearheaded by ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe and Treasurer General Paul Mashatile.
“The pair pushed for the motion of no confidence in Parliament and had indicated that should he be removed through Parliament, he would be hurled before a disciplinary committee and subsequently found guilty then get expelled from the party,” said a National Executive Committee member privy to the exit plan.
Another source added that the process was hurried to ensure that they get rid of Zuma permanently. The source said initially Zuma was not given a deadline to resign but a plan was hatched to give him a short notice and then put in place unrealistic time frames to ensure he falls on his sword.
“The 48 hours he was given was an afterthought to push him into a corner. The decision to also announce that he would be removed through a motion of no confidence in Parliament without the deadline even having lapsed was just the start of the plan,” said the source.
Zuma was recalled on Monday by the party and during the announcement, Secretary General Ace Magashule told the world that there was no time frame for him to respond and they were still open to discussions.
On Tuesday, things however changed. Zuma was told that he had to step down by the end of Wednesday or he would be removed the following day in Parliament through a motion of no confidence. On Wednesday afternoon, Zuma had an interview with the SABC where he lambasted the decision to announce Parliamentary steps before his deadline had even ended.
Zuma was prepared to fight to the bitter end but when he caught wind of the plan, it pushed him against the ropes. It is said that his love for the ANC and desire to be part of the organisation was what swayed him around.
“When he heard of what they were plotting, he decided to buy himself some more time by agreeing. He decided that instead of being booted out of the organisation he loves and has served for many years, he would rather step down and fight them while he is still a member in good standing,” said the source.
He was also aware that the process would not have been fair to him. It was going to be the same process that saw Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu expelled from the party. Mantashe who Malema this week came out to say was the orchestrator of their expulsion was leading that charge, it was not a winnable fight for Zuma, the source said.
During his resignation speech, Zuma made it known that he was not afraid of the motion of no confidence or impeachment. He also added that he was not afraid of losing the perks that come with the office. He said he had not become a president for those but to serve the people of South Africa.
Sources also added that the decision to expel him would have coursed tensions within the party and he was not prepared to have that. They said he made sacrifices to preserve the movement.
“His love for the ANC would not allow him to sit back and watch it disintegrate or members fighting one another,” said the source.
Even in his speech, he said he did not want to see blood spilt in his name. The source added that it was not over. He said the fight was just beginning.
But its not over yet. The source said there were still plans to have him expelled. The decision is driven by fear from Mantashe and Mashatile over Zuma’s work ethic and ability to mobilise at branch level. He has made it known that he would go back to his branch and work to hold the new leadership accountable as the branches hold the power in the ANC.
“The pair is afraid that unlike Thabo Mbeki, he will not sit around drinking whisky and smoking cigars, he will go back to his branch and mobilise people. They fear that he will get branches to hold them accountable and this will lead to them not being elected to serve a second term,” he said.
Another source added that the other fear was that the upcoming NGC might not see things going their way. The source said branches might come with different resolutions that might not favour the current leadership.
“People should have taken heed of his last statement when he resigned. He said we will meet somewhere. He means it, there is more to come from the old man. One thing they don’t realise that the decision to expel him will have dire consequences,” said the source.
Another source in the Ramaphosa camp said the new president would not agree to the expulsion of Zuma. The source said Ramaphosa wants to maintain the fragile unity which was called for by the members during the conference.
“That decision will divide the ANC. President Ramaphosa will not allow that. He will fight it. The old man is no longer a threat, they need to leave him alone and let him be an ordinary member of the party,” said the source.