Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

More ANC leaders defend Ramaphosa after three ex-presidents criticise him

The ANC in KZN and Limpopo, including Fikile Mbalula and Oscar Mabuyane, have all defended the president.

Several African National Congress (ANC) leaders have come out in defence of President Cyril Ramaphosa after he came under criticism from the country’s three former heads of state.

Ramaphosa under fire

Ramaphosa’s predecessors – Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma – were critical of his leadership of the governing party and South Africa, while speaking on different occasions over the weekend.

ALSO READ: ANC KZN comes to Ramaphosa’s defence after scathing comments from ex-presidents

The leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo released separate statements on Sunday, calling on Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma to stop “publicly attacking” Ramaphosa.

‘Exercise restraint’

The two provinces, which are the ANC’s biggest voting blocs as it heads to its elective conference in December, said the former presidents should express their criticisms of Ramaphosa and the ANC within the internal structures of the party.

“The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has noted a very strange occurrence wherein the above leaders are attacking the sitting ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC publicly. Clearly, such an exercise is eroding the standing of the organisation in society.

“Whilst we respect their rights, as enshrined in the constitution, of the freedom of speech, we respectfully request our leaders to exercise restraint.

“We call upon leaders of our movement to use the right channel to raise whatever frustration they have with the ANC instead of attacking the ANC, its government and its leadership in public,” the KZN ANC said.

In its statement, the ANC in Limpopo said the three former heads of state were developing a “penchant for publicly attacking” Ramaphosa.

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While it respects the former leaders’ constitutional rights to freedom of expression, the party in the province said Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma seat on the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and “they have the laxity of time and proximity” to raise their concerns.

“President Ramaphosa should be given time and space to lead both the ANC and the state. The ANC in Limpopo appreciates that there are challenges facing both the ANC and government, however, such problems cannot be attributed to president Ramaphosa.

“The ANC Limpopo is calling upon former presidents to desist from publicly attacking president Ramaphosa, and instead to assist through correct channels to strengthen the party and the government of the day.”

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Transport Minister and ANC NEC member Fikile Mbalula closed ranks around Ramaphosa over the weekend, leading a “hands off Cyril” campaign on social media in response to the former presidents’ criticism.

“If you attack your president, you’re not attacking Ramaphosa or weakening him; you’re weakening the ANC,” Mbalula told Newzroom Afrika.

‘Bring value to the ANC’

ANC Eastern Cape provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane also weighed in on the criticism levelled against Ramaphosa.

Mabuyane said instead of criticising the president and the ANC, Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma should assist the governing party to resolve its challenges.

“We really want to appeal to our leaders to assist us and bring value to the ANC,” he said.

“We defended all these presidents and there is no president that went through smooth sailing during their term. The ANC has been up defending them, but we can’t defend wrong things.”

Mabuyane added that the younger generation of the ANC should not be witnessing attacks by former leaders of the party on Ramaphosa.

“We join the KZN provincial executive committee on their call to say, ‘this cannot be allowed and can’t continue’. The ANC as an organisation should condemn this so that it’s not allowed.”

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