Sunday, May 8, 2011

Zuma Plot

May 7, 2011 

 Zuma 'took plot report seriously

ANC attempts to rubbish fears belied by leader's own warnings 

President Jacob Zuma's fear of being ousted from power at a crucial ANC gathering late last year resulted in him pulling out of an important United Nations meeting. 

The Sunday Times has also established that, despite a recent ANC attempt to rubbish an intelligence report alleging a plot to remove Zuma from power, the president took it so seriously that he told a meeting of the party's national executive committee in September that he was aware that some of its members were planning to get rid of him. 

Four NEC members who attended the meeting at Gallagher Estate, Midrand - where the party was making final preparations ahead of its national general council, also in September - said the meeting was stunned when Zuma made startling claims of a plot against him while delivering the opening speech to the gathering. 
The NEC meeting took place just weeks after crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli had sent a "top secret" report to Zuma alleging that the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize and other high-ranking ANC NEC members wanted to oust him.

Tokyo - No Plot Against Zuma 

The report said they had held a meeting in Estcourt, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, in January last year to plot against the president.

Sexwale Would Consider Nomination

"I know it's juicy for me to say, 'If I'm nominated ...' Let that come, and I'll say, 'What are the circumstances? Why? Who's doing this, for what purpose, and so on. Who am I competing against? Is Jacob Zuma still available?' If he is not available ... if this president decides, 'I'm not available,' I can seriously consider this thing."
The report became public recently after Mdluli's arrest on charges of murder and kidnapping.
Mdluli has claimed that his arrest was instigated by senior police officers who were, he alleged, working closely with politicians seeking to oust Zuma. 
Sexwale, Mkhize and other ANC leaders mentioned in the report have denied being part of a "plot", and the ANC dismissed the report as an attempt to portray "an ANC that is at war with itself".
But other NEC members told the Sunday Times that Zuma's behaviour during the period leading up to the NGC gathering suggested that he believed Mdluli's report. 
Zuma cancelled a planned trip to the US, where he was scheduled to address the UN General Assembly, and opted to attend the ANC gathering instead.
He sent senior government officials to represent him at the UN.
Party insiders said Zuma feared that his opponents would use his absence from the NGC to oust him.
Zuma's spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said the president had decided against the UN meeting because "we can't consider organisational issues (as) less (important) than anything else".
He said the NGC was "the biggest political school of the ANC" and the president had to attend it.
At the NEC meeting ahead of the NGC, Zuma sparked a heated debate when he told party leaders of the plot.
"The president spoke about the plot in his political overview. We debated and assured him that there was no plot, but, at the end of the meeting, the president spoke about the threat again," said an NEC member who attended the meeting.
Another NEC member said Zuma made the claim despite earlier assurances from party provincial chairmen that they were holding regular meetings to ensure that no one embarrassed him and other leaders at the NGC.
According to the NEC member, one provincial chairman - who is also a premier - stood up to tell Zuma that the party could not be held to ransom by leaders who "lacked self-confidence".
Some NEC members believe that the president's remarks were influenced by the Mdluli report.

But, according to one NEC member and cabinet minister close to Zuma, the president's remarks had nothing to do with the report.
"The president was dealing with the issue of ill-discipline in the organisation in all its manifestations," said the minister. "He was saying, 'If you talk about leadership, it must be an open thing.'
"It's an unfortunate coincidence that this would (be linked to the alleged plot).
"It was like saying, 'There are all these things in the papers about what should happen in 2012. It must come from somewhere. It means that there are people talking behind (others') backs."'
Zuma's office refused to answer questions relating to the president's remarks at the NEC meeting, referring inquiries to Luthuli House.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said: "ANC meetings are ANC meetings. I am not aware of such utterances from the president." 
While other party leaders have denounced the report as false, former National Intelligence Agency boss Billy Masetlha has become the first NEC member to openly say the allegations about the plot were real.
He told the Sunday Times that "no member of the NEC" could claim to not know that there was an ongoing campaign to oust Zuma from power at the party's national conference in December next year.
"There is serious campaigning, even on the ground, about changing the leadership in 2012. This is now even affecting our campaigning for the local government elections, because our people on the ground tell us about 2012," said Masetlha.


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