QAANITAH HUNTER, GRAEME HOSKEN, BIANCA CAPAZORIO, SIPHO MABENA and KATHARINE CHILD | 2017-04-05 06:21:05.0
This comes as pressure is mounting on Zuma to step down – both from within and outside the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners – after he removed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.
The extended NWC meeting included ANC provincial chairmen and secretaries.
Yesterday, Cosatu joined the SACP and party veterans in calling on the ANC to recall the president. The union federation said it no longer had faith in him to continue leading the alliance.
Those calling for Zuma’s head have been emboldened by Ramaphosa, Mantashe and Mkhize’s decision to openly differ with him, saying he never consulted them about the changes but merely informed them.
But his supporters are believed to have pushed for the three leaders to explain their “ill-discipline”.
Notes of the meeting leaked to the media mentioned that such a discussion did take place. They also revealed that a discussion about a change of leadership made it to the agenda of the meeting.
But the ANC was quick to distance the party from the notes.
It is believed the SACP and Cosatu also came under attack during the meeting.
The party also discussed a strategy of how to counter a motion of no confidence in Zuma in parliament. It is understood the meeting agreed that all top leaders must address the divided ANC caucus in a bid to stop any of the party’s MPs from voting with the opposition.
Earlier, Zuma’s allies came out fighting, endorsing him as president of the ruling party until later this year and as head of state until 2019, while blasting his opponents and ratings agency Standard & Poor’s Global for downgrading the country to junk status.
The downgrading had nothing to do with economics but was politically motivated, a cabinet minister supporting Zuma said.
Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane told supporters from the ANC Youth League and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association at a rally at Germiston Stadium on the East Rand that South Africa had voted for Zuma knowing he was president of the ANC and had been deployed by the ANC.
“The West can’t dictate to us. The rand falls. It fell in apartheid [times] and we will pick it up again now,” she said.
“Investors are like window-shoppers. It’s still the ANC in power. The problems you see now are not a reflection of an unstable ANC.
“These junk ratings have nothing to do with financial ratings – it’s political ratings.”
The chairman of the ANC Youth League in Gauteng, Matome Chiloane, told the rally: “Zuma has demonstrated his interest in ensuring that the economy is successful.”
He said those who spoke out against Zuma had shown that they were “security guards of white monopoly capital”.
Chiloane said the league would not allow the country to be held to ransom by ratings agencies.
“Zuma is president today, president tomorrow and will be president in the future to come.”
Fear of capital flight, if another ratings agency follows S&P’s lead and downgrades South Africa’s investment rating, is now widespread.
Niel Oberholzer, of the University of Johannesburg’s department of financial and investment planning, said: “This has the makings of a financial crisis similar to that of 1985, when the National Party could not pay [the country’s] debts and could not borrow more.”
Yesterday, the director-general of the Treasury, Lungisa Fuzile, asked to leave his post at the end of this month, a year before his contract expires, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported.
In papers filed in the High Court yesterday, DA MP James Selfe said the implications of Zuma’s decision to fire Gordhan and Jonas were of an “extraordinarily serious and far-reaching nature”.
In Port Elizabeth, thousands gathered at the city hall under the Save SA banner where they chanted: “Zuma must go.” They said the gathering was part of the build-up to the countrywide “shutdown” on Friday calling for Zuma’s head.
Zuma and new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba put on a brave face yesterday on the downgrade.
Gigaba said though he was not downplaying the significance of the decision by S&P Global, “we need to retain our confidence in the South African economy. Our institutions are strong, the macroeconomic fundamentals are also strong. The concerns are about political risks, policy uncertainties”.
Gigaba said while it would not be easy to change the rating, the political and economic risks highlighted by the ratings agency could be managed.
Business Unity SA said the country faced a significant challenge in trying to reassure investors and alleviate the drop in confidence.