African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has hit back at Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza after he lambasted the governing party’s top six leaders who have spoken out against President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, saying he was “mischievous” and did not know the policies of the ANC.
Following Zuma’s controversial Cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw 10 ministers get fired from their posts, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and Mantashe have been vocal about the restructuring.
Ramaphosa has described the axing of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebi Jonas, as unacceptable, and Mantashe said the top six had not been consulted but rather informed of the changes to the Cabinet.
Mkhize said Zuma’s decision to shake up his executive without consulting the top six leadership suggested that the ANC no longer came first to him.
Speaking to News24 on Monday, Mantashe responded to Mabuza’s remarks: “We are not asking for favours here. We are asking people to do what is right so that when you do things the organisation goes with you, otherwise there will be no ANC that contests elections and gives [power] over to an individual called a president or a premier. There is no such thing.”
The ANC’s 52nd national conference in 2007 had resolved that presidents, premiers and mayors had to consult with the party before making changes to their executive despite having the constitutional prerogative to pick their team, Mantashe added.
The secretary-general said he would not allow for the ANC to be “shaped in the image of DD Mabuza”, saying consultations were necessary, and without engagement before decisions are taken, there would not be a need to have the top six leaders.
“What I don’t agree with is that people must call us names, because we have taken a stance, and make us toy telephones. We don’t need to be consulted, therefore there is no need to elect the six officials,” Mantashe said.
He also acknowledged that the environment was “toxic” within the ANC following the Cabinet reshuffle.