Faction fighting to get vicious
The ANC and the country have a rough ride ahead of them for at least the next six months.
Supporters of President Jacob Zuma are launching a campaign to get his detractors fired, including those in the cabinet, not withstanding assurances to the contrary by the party's secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe.
Political and economic analysts say the lobbying and counterlobbying in the ANC, expected to kick off after calls for Zuma to be fired as party leader at the weekend meeting of the ANC national executive committee came to nothing, will not leave South Africa unscathed.
The ANC Youth League, which is part of a pro-Zuma camp that also includes a group of provincial premiers known as "the premier league", yesterday said it would be gunning for ministers and other senior party members who said at the weekend they wanted Zuma out of office.
This was just hours after Mantashe proclaimed: "That is not how we work" when he was asked if those who spoke against Zuma at the NEC meeting would be punished.
The NEC members expected to be targeted include Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who led the charge against Zuma, and those who supported him such as ministers Thulas Nxesi, of (Public Works0, Aaron Motsoaledi (Health), Pravin Gordhan (Finance) and Naledi Pandor (Science and Technology).
The ANC chief whip in parliament, Jackson Mthembu, also supported those gunning for Zuma.
ANC Youth League deputy president Desmond Moela said the league wanted Mthembu axed.
The league said ministers could not be allowed to continue in office after saying they had no confidence in the president of the ANC. "Those who are mobilising for people to resign must resign themselves," Moela said. "They must go."
Zuma's detractors at the weekend meeting of the NEC were forced into a compromise, agreeing to put the president's future on ice until the end of June, when the next policy conference of the ANC will be held.
"The first two days of the conference will be utilised to assess the state of the organisation as envisaged in the veterans' call for a consultative conference," Mantashe said.
Mantashe denied reports that the cabinet ministers who said they had no confidence in Zuma had threatened to resign.
"There will be huge consequences if [they] just walk away. We are not a free-for-all movement," he said.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the ANC would struggle to avoid a lobbying free-for-all.
"Those who challenged [Zuma] are emboldened by the fact that they have finally excised the fear of being able to tell him in his presence that he is a liability," Fikeni said.
"They will try to influence ANC branches, the SACP and Cosatu. The other ones will be lobbying to make sure that they do not get another surprise, and that the president finishes his terms at least as president of the ANC."
Economist Xhanti Payi said the markets would continue to watch developments within the ANC closely. The rand reacted to the news of Zuma remaining at the helm by falling almost 2% against the dollar.