ANC postpones Zuma hearing

Published May 6, 2024


Durban — The ANC may have postponed its disciplinary hearing involving Jacob Zuma, but supporters of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), which the former president now leads, are still intent on gathering at Luthuli House.

A letter addressed to ANC national disciplinary committee (NDC) chairperson Ralph Mgijima on Saturday – and signed by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula – highlighted the ruling party’s decision.

Zuma was expected to appear before the NDC on Tuesday on charges of endorsing another political party and for appearing on the candidates list of another party.

He has failed to resign from the ANC despite leading the MKP.

In the letter, Mbalula explains that Zuma will be called to the NDC after the May 29 election.

The letter states: “Based on an assessment of the security situation prevailing at Luthuli House, we are advised that activities, including disciplinary hearings, that attract large gatherings are not advisable as they have the potential to result in violence, especially so close to the National and Provincial Elections scheduled for May 29.”

However, MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela said they were still going ahead with their gathering as they had not been told of the postponement.

“We have not received any communique from the NDC, so as such we are going ahead with the gathering outside Luthuli House as a show of support to our leader,” Ndlela said on Saturday.

He said there was no need to proceed with the hearings as campaigning for the elections was in full swing, adding that the ruling party had done this in a bid to derail MKP.

According to Ndlela, the contents of Mbalula’s letter demonstrated that the ANC had tendencies towards violence.

“We have been peaceful at all our gatherings; in fact it is ANC supporters who have disrupted us, as was the case in Pongola when we were campaigning,” said Ndlela.

In what is regarded as the country’s most crucial election since the dawn of democracy, the ANC’s decision to charge Zuma with misconduct was labelled as a significant scene-setter in the political landscape. The expectation was that Zuma would be expelled.

Many have pointed out that Zuma presents the greatest challenge yet to the ruling party, illustrated by the many members who have left the ANC for the MKP.

A recent survey indicates that support for the ANC will not only dip below 50%, but that the MKP is eating into the ruling party’s support base.

According to a recent poll by the Social Research Foundation, support for the ANC is below 40%, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal set to become key political battlegrounds in the elections.

ANC Moses Mabhida Region chairperson Mzi Thebolla said they were not worried about Zuma’s pulling power, adding that this would be demonstrated at polls.

Thebolla was reacting to questions about whether Zuma’s popularity in the region – that incorporates Pietermaritzburg and surrounding towns – would be a factor in the elections. Since his run-ins with the law, Zuma has been a familiar face in the region, starting with the reburial of Moses Mabhida in 2006 and his High Court appearance in 2008.

This year he caused a stir when he, along with former Msunduzi Municipality deputy mayor Thobani Zuma, visited Mabhida’s grave at Heroes Acre in Pietermaritzburg. Thebolla said Zuma was only popular because of his membership of the ruling party.

“This region is not Mr Zuma’s stronghold, but is an ANC stronghold. It has been president Mandela’s, president Thabo Mbeki’s and is now President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stronghold. History has demonstrated that the region is a strong base for the ANC. Soon people will see that this Zuma thing is a farce and will reject it in this region,” he said.

A former uMkhonto weSizwe operative, who asked not to be named, said the postponement of the disciplinary hearing was aimed at avoiding bloodshed.

“The fear of a repeat of the Shell House massacre, where scores of Inkatha Freedom Party supporters were killed outside the ANC headquarters just days before the 1994 elections, was the primary reason behind the ruling party’s decision to postpone former president Jacob Zuma’s appearance before the national disciplinary committee,” he said.

He said MKP members and supporters had vowed to gather outside Luthuli House in a show of support for their leader.

This coupled, with the possibility of ANC supporters also coming to protect their home turf, was likely to lead to heated confrontations between the two groups, leading to injuries or even fatalities.

Sunday Tribune