President Jacob Zuma consulted ANC top brass as far back as November last year about the decision to fire former finance minister Pravin Gordhan‚ deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte revealed on Wednesday.
Duarte’s revelations could mean that the ANC’s senior leadership has settled its differences over the recent controversial cabinet shakeup.
“Yes‚ we’ve known for quite a while. The president indicated in November that that was his wish and he was persuaded by us that he should wait a while‚” Duarte said at a media briefing after a special meeting of the national working committee (NWC).
“He explained his reasons then to us that his relationship between himself and finance minister Gordhan was not good‚” she said.
However‚ Duarte maintained that the president did not inform the top five about his intention to fire other ministers‚ but merely presented a list to his peers.
Secretary general Gwede Mantashe echoed his deputy. He said the fact that Gordhan had not been replaced by former Eskom boss Brian Molefe‚ as Zuma had wanted‚ was a sign of compromise among the ANC’s top six.
“The list was given to us‚ we did not discuss it [and] that’s why we raised the issue of lack of consultation on that matter‚” he said.
Mantashe also dismissed calls for ANC MPs to back a vote of no confidence against Zuma.
The NWC meeting came as the ANC tries to present a united front after the cabinet reshuffle‚ which has sparked widespread protests and anger among the ruling party.
Gordhan‚ who is due to speak in Tshwane on Wednesday night‚ has been among the most outspoken.
At a memorial service for struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada on Saturday‚ Gordhan said that he was “unashamedly” mobilising against corrupt leaders.
Mantashe and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa initially criticised the cabinet reshuffle‚ in particular the axing of Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
Mantashe and Ramaphosa said it Zuma had used a dubious intelligence report to justify firing Gordhan and Jonas.