Mbeki speaks on relations with Zuma

In his weekly newsletter on the African National Congress (ANC) website last week, Mbeki rejected suggestions of a “supposed life-and-death conflict” between Zuma and himself and widespread views that the ruling party was crumbling due to a “leadership crisis”. He said the reality of the situation in the ANC would, in coming months, disprove assertions that the party was under any threat. “There are some in our country who find it in their fundamental interest to propagate the false message that the current, and very strange, public controversy that relates to our movement centres on a supposed life-and-death conflict between the president and the deputy president of the ANC.” These statements went on to assert that the supposed conflict was the most important and decisive issue that would determine the medium-term future both of the ANC and democratic South Africa . “Without doubt, actual reality over the next 18 months, rather than the wishes of some forces in our country and elsewhere in the world, will prove that the speculative prediction that the ANC may not ‘survive intact’, is nothing more than an expression of the vain wishes of its inventors. Mbeki cited a recent newspaper article suggesting that the current “ANC succession battle” raised questions over whether the party could survive the next 18 months to the conference in December next year when Mbeki’s successor is due to be elected. For close to a year, the ruling party has been rocked by speculation that Zuma’s intensive lobbying for the positions of party and national president after the expiry of Mbeki’s term in 2009 was tearing it apart. A struggle for leadership of the ANC is understood to have been triggered Mbeki’s axing of Zuma as the country’s deputy president a year ago, following a court ruling that Zuma was had a “generally corrupt relationship” with his financial advisor Schabir Schaik. However, the ANC, through secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe, has vehemently rejected the claims of a party split, saying the leadership of the party would be decided through “proper party channels”. In his latest statement, Mbeki referred to a joint statement issued to the ANC National Executive Council (NEC) by himself and Zuma in September last year. The statement appreciated the “genuine sense of solidarity among cadres within the movement” with Zuma, though it was cautious about “unhealthy forces (which) seek to attach themselves to this campaign”. “Some of these forces would be driven by opportunism, others by a counter-revolutionary agenda to weaken the ANC and undermine transformation, and yet others by attempts to hide behind the campaign to pursue illegal and corrupt activities. “We, therefore, urge, in the strongest terms possible, that no one should use the name of the president or the deputy president to mobilise for or against either, and for or against any other leader of the movement,” the statement read. In another joint statement issued to the NEC in November last year, Mbeki and Zuma said false assertions had “repeatedly” been made that Zuma was campaigning to mobilise support for his election to the post of ANC president in 2007 and national president in 2009. “The deputy president has never campaigned for these or any other positions,” it read. The ANC president said his and Zuma’s decision to issue the statement jointly had been deliberate, as they were fully conscious of their “shared commitment to respect and sustain the noble traditions that had characterised the ANC for more than nine decades”. He said last month’s meeting of the NEC had also rejected perceived notions of a division among the senior leaders of the organisation, stating that they were “baseless and without foundation”. “We wish to assert that there is one ANC, and, therefore, reject the notion that individuals should be required to choose sides, on the basis of the absolutely false assertion that we lead two contending factions within the movement. “Principled and decisive action by members of the ANC, the broad democratic movement and the masses of our people will, once again, confirm the determination of our people to defend the integrity and unity of their historic movement, the ANC, confident that it remains the true repository and defender of their interests,” Mbeki said. After a meeting of the NEC two weeks ago, Motlanthe said the ANC would now defer all debate on Mbeki’s ANC successor until next year.

June 2006
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