By Luke Daniel for The South African
The Sunday Times has dropped a bombshell, exposing a secret plot to overthrow President Cyril Ramaphosa, spearheaded by Jacob Zuma and his cohorts.
According to the report, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is doing everything in its power to downplay the allegations, as some party members deny their involvement and others do damage control.
It’s alleged that Zuma has held a number of covert conferences with his ANC allies. According to sources within the party, battle plans are being drawn for a presidential overthrow.
Who is team Zuma?
Former president Zuma has some staunch allies within the part – most of them high-ranking officials, with the power to seriously disrupt the status-quo. The report alleges that two meetings took place in Durban last week. Below is a list of those who are said to have been in attendance.
Former President Jacob Zuma
The man with the plan, Msholozi himself – sources within the ANC claim that Zuma is the mastermind behind the fight back and that his political supporters have been brought together to enact a presidential coup. A top ANC executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said:
“Zuma has a grudge… because of his removal. That is why he is always in the public eye. He’s not campaigning for the ANC, but against the ANC. He’s campaigning to the extent of not sleeping. He attends every function, funeral and church service – to make sure he’s in the public eye.”
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule was elected Secretary General at the ANC’s 2017 National Conference. Magashule has always been a part of team Zuma – his leadership position seen as a trade-off for Ramaphosa’s presidency.
No stranger to controversy, the former Free State premiere has been embroiled in the dubious Vrede dairy project. This connects him directly to the infamous Gupta family, and to the broader issue of state-capture.
President Jacob Zuma with North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo at the National Day of Reconciliation celebrations under the theme “Bridging the Divide towards a non-racial society” at Gopane in the North West Province.
The former premier of the North West province, Supra Mahumapelo, almost singlehandedly, managed to collapse local government under his tenure. The province was hit by a wave of service delivery protests, state coffers were looted, and the province was eventually placed under national administration.
Mahumapelo, like Magashule, is a fierce Zuma loyalist and is said to play an integral role in Zuma’s political resurgence.
The presence of the Women’s League (ANCWL) secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, is unsurprising. The ANCWL has always been a firm supporter of former president Zuma. Under the tenure of Bathabile Dlamini, the Women’s League has defended Zuma through his presidential ousting and court appearances.
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo, is expected to take charge of the organisation’s national administration at the next elective conference.
Sabelo, who has overwhelming support in KwaZulu-Natal will likely replace Collen Maine as the league’s president.
South African Airways (SAA), is in a shambles, largely thanks to former board chairperson Dudu Myeni. The National Treasury has accused her of botching a multimillion-rand funding deal. The disgraced former chairperson is also implicated in the Gupta saga and is under fire for her role in state capture.
Myeni is a close friend of Zuma, with many political adversaries citing her appointment to SAA’s board as a direct influence of the former president.
Zuma meetings exposed
According to the Sunday Times, two meetings took place last week in Durban.
The first meeting, on Wednesday, was attended by Magashule, Mahumapelo and Myeni; it was held at the Beverley Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.
On Thursday, all players involved, including Zuma, convened at the Maharani hotel in Durban.
Deny, deny, deny
While all parties accused of attending these clandestine meetings have denied their involvement, several ANC executives confirmed the allegations.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, said he was aware of the meetings but directed any further questions to Magashule.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, argued that no formal meeting between Zuma and Magashule had been scheduled.
ANC NEC member, Enoch Godongwana, maintained that while he wasn’t aware of any secret meetings, a clandestine conference involving Magashule would be cause for concern, saying:
“I don’t know about the meeting. I don’t know about its purpose. Maybe they were meeting for a birthday party. But if [it was a secret meeting] then it’s a problem because the office of the Secretary General is supposed to be respected. It’s supposed to unite us. If it becomes involved [in such meetings] then it’s worrying.”
ANCYL executive, Sabelo, confirmed that he met Magashule, but argued that it was a chance encounter with no erroneous undertones.
Yet, denial falls flat before evidence held by the Sunday Times. A photograph showing Magashule, Mahumapelo, Matuba and Zuma gathered at the Maharani hotel has been published for all the world to see.
Team Zuma: Battleplan
While clandestine meetings are, by nature, designed to conceal plans, part insiders report that the group supporting Zuma are aiming to challenge the results of last year’s ANC National Conference. The outcome of which led to Ramaphosa becoming the country’s president.
It’s reported that the pro-Zuma faction is taking the legal route; arguing that the Nasrec conference was marred by voting irregularities relating to branch meetings and illegitimate delegates.
An ANC insider confirmed that Zuma’s battle plan is due to emanate from the North West, saying:
“We have been told about this serious fightback… the one way they are considering is the alternative political party that was formed. Then there is a fight to go to court and take that route. But the real purpose is to disrupt the momentum we are getting before election.”
The official response
The ANC Women’s League issued a statement saying it was “not surprised by the false story in Sunday Times by Qaanitah Hunter and Jeff Wicks”, adding: “We support freedom of media and believes that journalists must be independent voices, however we will not be silent when Qaanitah and Jeff peddles lies that there are plans to outs President Ramaphosa and portrays former President Jacob Zuma as an enemy that should be alienated by members of the organization.
“It might not be far from the truth that Qaanitah and Jeff are advancing interests of local or international forces that seeks to projects the ANC as unstable organization and by extension the government being unstable.”
Later, the party issued an official statement calling the story “shameless gossip”.