Calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down are a waste of time, African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) member Nomvula Mokonyane said on Tuesday.
“The ANC will not change its mind. President Jacob Zuma will remain leader of the ANC until December 2017, when we go to elections,” she told about 100 ANC Youth League supporters gathered at the Germiston Stadium for the “Future is Bright” assembly.
Mokonyane is also water and sanitation minister. She criticised ministers who lost their positions during Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle last Thursday, and those who had been calling for him to step down as president of the country and the ANC.
Zuma appointed 10 new ministers and 10 new deputy ministers. Those who lost their jobs included finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The rand fell against the US dollar and ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded South Africa’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to speculative grade, or “junk” status.
“When we go door-to-door, it's President Jacob Zuma’s face on the ballot paper, it's Zuma and the others. We are the others,” Mokonyane told the crowd.
"We have never hidden his face. South Africans voted for an ANC president knowing that he will be president of the country, but understanding that he is a deployee of the ANC. There is no confusion around that."
Calls for Zuma to step down have come from many quarters of society. The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, ANC stalwarts, churches, civic organisations and opposition parties have expressed their lack of confidence in a Zuma-led government.
Three of the ANC’s top six officials questioned Zuma’s actions and who he had consulted before making his decision.
Mokonyane questioned the credentials of Gordhan and his predecessor Trevor Manuel. She said Manuel, a qualified civil engineer, who got his qualification from Cape Technikon, was not an economist. Gordhan is a qualified pharmacist, she said.
“Gordhan was unknown, but Zuma deployed him,” she said.
Defending new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, Mokonyane said although his skin might be darker than Gordhan’s, they were exactly the same.
“Gigaba is also an ANC child. He might be darker than Gordhan but he is exactly like him. He is a deployee of the ANC.”
She appealed to South Africans and the world to respect ANC processes and vowed to never give in to pressure from the West.
She said the country’s medium-term economic framework was still the same and the ANC was still in power.
Ratings agency Moody’s said on Monday it had put South Africa on watch for a possible ratings downgrade.
“What has caused this Moody group to rate us in two days? It’s about politics not political economy,” she said.
Zuma had been expected to attend the meeting. Mokonyane apologised for his absence and said he needed to participate in the ANC’s extended national working committee meeting.
Those who applauded when Zuma was criticised at ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral on Wednesday were being dealt with, she said to cheering from the crowd.
“Zuma will still be in charge till 2017 and in 2019 into the next elections.”