Cape Town – Following a scathing letter from former President Jacob Zuma addressed to his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, in which he slated Ramaphosa for saying the ANC should be the “Accused No 1” as accusations of corruption mount, a senior member, Tony Yengeni, has reportedly asked the president to step down asked ahead of the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
TimesLive reported that Yengeni has asked Ramaphosa to step down ahead of what is expected to be an explosive sitting of the NEC.
The call was reportedly made at a national working committee meeting on Friday ahead of the NEC meeting, sources said.
Aside from being unhappy with Ramaphosa’s letter, Yengeni said the president should lead by example and step down because he was accused of vote-buying at the Nasrec conference.
Ramaphosa penned a letter to ANC members at the weekend and spoke out against corruption.
In his letter, Ramaphosa said that corruption was one of the issues to be confronted head-on and that it had caused the greatest outrage and that there were private sector companies and individuals, including civil servants, who had exploited a grave medical, social and economic crisis to wrongfully enrich themselves.
Ramaphosa said this was an unforgivable betrayal for millions of South Africans who were being negatively affected by the impact of Covid-19, experiencing hunger daily, hopelessness and joblessness.
On Friday, Zuma responded to Ramaphosa’s letter with his own no-holds-barred letter in which he said Ramaphosa’s letter had betrayed a lack of understanding of how the leadership of the ANC should communicate with its structures.
Further rebuking Ramaphosa for his letter, Zuma said that it was “absolutely unjustified” of Ramaphosa to attribute to the entire ANC and its ordinary members, misconduct of a few individuals that had access to state power and its resources as well as ANC leadership positions.
He added that by stating that the ANC stood as “Accused No. 1” in respect of the charge of corruption, Ramaphosa implicated thousands of innocent members of the ANC who continued to face hunger and dehumanising poverty and had never benefited from corruption.
“You proceed to say the ANC should bury its head in shame. Mr President, this statement that you make is not helpful to the ANC, in my respectful view.
“For all intents and purposes, it can only serve to destroy the ANC, particularly if the head of the ANC pleads guilty on behalf of the ANC, and calls the ANC the accused Number 1.
“Your actions are unprecedented in this regard. Mr President you are indeed the first president of the ANC to stand in public and accuse the ANC of criminality and that the ANC must be the accused Number 1 as accusations of corruption mount,” Zuma said.
“It is absolutely unjustified to attribute to the entire ANC and to ordinary members misconduct of a few individuals that have access to state power and it’s resources as well as ANC leadership positions.”
Zuma’s spokesperson Vukile Mathabela confirmed the letter, but said he was shocked that it had been leaked.
“You write, for your own desires to plead for white validation and approval, the worst betrayal of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others who sacrificed their own freedom for the ANC. With your pen, you desecrate the graves of young men and women who lived and died cruel deaths in the hands of apartheid security forces and mercenaries,” Zuma wrote in the strongly-worded letter.
In the letter, Zuma said Ramaphosa’s statement that the ANC stands as corruption accused number one implicated thousands of innocent party members.
“I view your letter as a diversion, a public relations exercise by which you accuse the entire ANC in order to save your own skin.”
He called Ramaphosa’s actions unprecedented, adding that since the party’s formation in 1912, he was the first party president to say it should hang its head in shame.
Ramaphosa today signed a proclamation for the Special Investigating Unit to investigate any allegation of corruption across all spheres of the state.
Zuma said Ramaphosa was betraying the party’s founding members.
“I know, Mr President, my letter will be misconstrued as an attempt to ignore allegations leveled against me, or to attribute every failure of the ANC to you. Many in white circles that are fond of you and seek to minimise your errors will fill their barrels of ink and sharpen their pens to condemn me for expressing my views,” he said.
He added that Ramaphosa’s letter contained the “cardinal error” of implicating the ANC in matters that it’s leaders must account for.
He said, in all the years he has been accused of wrongdoing including the arms deal, he had never implicated the ANC.
“I have faced those charges alone and have become the scapegoat as many of you continue to enjoy the riches that white monopoly capital continues to bless you with.”
Zuma said was this was an opportune time for Ramaphosa to reveal if his companies had conducted any business with government in the so-called “nine wasted years” while Zuma was president.
“This would help you, Mr. President, to dispel this unfortunate allegation sometimes labeled against you.”
In his sharply-worded letter, Zuma said it appeared that Ramaphosa was diverting attention away from himself, as he currently stood accused of receiving a billion rand during his CR17 campaign.
“Worse still, as a matter of fact, and with some unsurprising help from the judgment of the North Gauteng High Court, you have sealed the records reflecting your generous donors in order for the public and ordinary members you lead never know the identities of those who funded your campaign to win the presidency this glorious movement and consequently ascend to the highest office in the land.”
Zuma’s letter comes as the NEC prepares to hold its special meeting, where issues of corruption are expected to be dealt with extensively.
The National Working Committee met on Monday and resolved to support Ramaphosa’s letter to its members. ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte on Tuesday said the party would review all members implicated in corruption with a fine-tooth comb.
News24 reported that the NWC had recommended that all members implicated in wrongdoing must step aside. The first casualty has been former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu, who was asked to step aside on Friday morning from all their duties.
The contentious debate around corruption is said to be splitting the already fragmented ANC in half.