If the tone set by the ANC Eastern Cape provincial policy conference yesterday is anything to go by, the province is emerging as a strong anti-Zuma bloc.
Following President Jacob Zuma’s 11th-hour cancellation of his commitment to give the national executive committee’s (NEC) political input at the gathering in East London, his stand-in, NEC member Fikile Xasa, pulled no punches against “Guptas and their friends”, calling for their isolation in the party.
No reason was given for Zuma’s no-show.
Zuma has not appeared in any ANC event of provincial significance in the Eastern Cape this year. His deputy Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the January 8 anniversary celebrations in Mthatha.
However, Zuma addressed two regional elective conferences in March – one in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the other in Amathole, where his known loyalists had emerged victorious.
Xasa, addressing hundreds of hyped-up delegates, said it was unfortunate that the people of South Africa had voted the ANC into power yet it seemed that the role had now been assumed by the Guptas.
Xasa was one of the 18 NEC members who supported the motion for Zuma to step down in the last NEC meeting. However the motion was defeated.
“It seems these Guptas are now governing South Africa and not the ANC, even though the people of South Africa voted the ANC into power, and not these Guptas,” charged Xasa to emphatic applause from the delegates.
“Those among us within the ANC who are allowing the Guptas to infiltrate us must be isolated. We must isolate the Guptas and their friends and we will not be silenced by anyone on this.
“This Gupta thing we associate with corruption and corruption is hurting the ANC. Speaking against that is how we are going to renew the ANC,” said Xasa.
Xasa, who is also the MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) in the province, encouraged the gathering to craft solid policy proposals that would have a positive impact at the national policy conference of the ruling party, which is scheduled to start on Friday.
As they do so, he went on, “they must keep in mind what kind of leaders they will entrust with the task of implementing those policies as the party’s national elective conference in December approaches”.
ANC provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle, who opened the conference, said the party in the province must consolidate its unity heading to the national conference.
“We are here to unite and go to the national policy conference as a single indivisible delegation of the Eastern Cape, not small divided groups and factions,” said Masualle.
Xasa also called on ANC members to revolt against the alienation of party veterans. This following confusion surrounding the two-day so called “renewal” special consultative conference that was called for by ANC veterans scheduled to precede the national policy conference.
Xasa applauded the province for embracing the call for a consultative conference made by veterans at their provincial one last weekend, the only ANC province to have done so.
Said Xasa: “We cannot allow some of these comrades to refer to ANC veterans as factional groups. As members we must revolt against leadership which suggests we must detach ourselves from our history.
“The ANC cannot say it does not have veterans when it is 105 years old.”
During his opening address, Masualle said while the province would be talking to policy issues of national relevance, it should not be ashamed to advance policies that have a bias to the province such as traditional leader issues.
“We have all come to appreciate that the main issue is poverty, inequality and unemployment that is rife among our youth and we keep saying that ANC policies are very good, they only need an aggressive implementation,” said Masualle.
“As the Eastern Cape we still need to sharpen our perspective on the interaction between democratically elected institutions and our traditional institutions, taking account of the practical experiences we have on the ground.” — firstname.lastname@example.org