The African National Congress (ANC) has dismissed reports by Gupta-owned news channel ANN7 claiming that some of the party’s top six leaders had “pushed” President Jacob Zuma to attend Cosatu’s Workers’ Day rally on Monday in Bloemfontein, Free State.
The news channel had reported that the ruling party’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize forced the president’s hand to speak at the event, which collapsed after workers’ affiliated to the federation booed and heckled Zuma at Loch Logan Park.
The ANC has accused ANN7 of being “a mouthpiece of the factional divisions” in the party, saying the network had consistently showed itself as being intent on “driving wedges” and pitting ANC leaders against each other.
“Such reportage is habitual and typical of ANN7 – devoid of truth, divisive and designed to create an illusion of some ‘ANC insider’ status for the channel,” the ANC said in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday.
The party said the deployment of its leaders at various May Day rallies on Monday were a collective decision of its top six national leaders “not some fictitious structure called the top three”.
“Further, it was a decision taken by the National Officials fully aware of the potential for heckling and other disruptions. Regardless of the potential for discord, the leadership felt it necessary and correct that invitations as received from Cosatu were honoured and the ANC message calling for unity of the Alliance be delivered,” the ANC said.
In April, the party’s alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu called for Zuma to step down after his much-criticised Cabinet reshuffle, saying they no longer believed he was the right person to lead the country and the tripartite alliance.
Cosatu went further to endorse Ramaphosa for the ANC’s top job when Zuma’s term ends in December as party leader.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and the party’s chairperson, Baleka Mbete, were also jeered at other Cosatu rallies held in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal respectively, but Ramaphosa, Mantashe, and Mkhize received a warm reception at Cosatu rallies they spoke at.
ANN7 seems hell-bent “to manufacture false consensus, sharpening contradictions and deepening fissures in the ANC”, the ANC charged, while underscoring that the media in the country had the responsibility to report the news accurately, factually and objectively.
“This is behavior that the ANC has fought in the past and will continue to do so in the run up to the National Conference and beyond.
“The unity of the African National Congress remains paramount and our overriding ambition. We will not be distracted in this quest by narrow, self-serving interests whose motivations can only serve to further weaken the ANC.”