African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe admitted that voicing their disagreements on the recent cabinet reshuffle was a “mistake”.
Mantashe was speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday morning, Mantashe said, Three of the ANC’s top officials – deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize – have accepted that they made a “mistake” by publicly criticising President Jacob Zuma following his Cabinet reshuffle.
Zuma has won the day after a special extended ANC National Working Committee meeting rejected calls for him to step down.
“Officials had a candid report on serious issue disagreements, it was a mistake that must not to be committed again,” Mantashe said.
Insiders who attended the meeting, which lasted several hours on Tuesday night, said the trio were “lambasted” for speaking out.
“We must find it adult enough to close the door, beat each other up, if you find me with a blue eye, I must develop a narrative that I bumped a pole rather than going public with disagreements,” Mantashe told journalists.
He said the 2007 resolution that premiers and mayors should consult ANC leadership before changing their executive was behind the “shortcoming” in managing the reshuffle.
The party members who attended the NWC meeting had also accepted that Zuma’s broken relationship with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was enough reason for him to fire him.
Mantashe said it was unfortunate that some leaders had used an intelligence report as a reason for Gordhan’s dismissal
“NWC accepted that the irretrievable breakdown of relationship was sufficient explanation between president and members of Cabinet, issue of intelligence report complicated matter,” Mantashe said
The NWC meeting included provincial chairpersons and secretaries, and was said to be dominated by Zuma supporters.
The ANC is facing an unparalleled revolt against a party leader in office. Calls for Zuma to step down have come from within the governing party, including from prominent stalwarts, the SACP and Cosatu, who had campaigned for Zuma’s presidency.
Meanwhile, opposition parties, civil society, religious leaders and unions are planning anti-Zuma protests across the country.
However, supporters of Zuma, like the ANC Youth and Women’s Leagues, are planning pushback campaigns, including celebrations to mark Zuma’s birthday next Wednesday.
On Tuesday, NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane said Zuma would remain at the helm until 2019.