Why the dogs of war are hunting Hanekom

21 August 2017 - 16:29 By ranjeni munusamy
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Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism.
Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism.
Image: Russell Roberts

Derek Hanekom is being used as a crash test dummy to show other ANC dissenters what could happen to them.

Like with the axed finance duo‚ Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas‚ everything the former tourism minister says and does is closely watched by the Zuma camp in the ANC.

And like Gordhan and Jonas‚ Hanekom is one of the faces of resistance against President Jacob Zuma.

On Sunday a letter‚ signed by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe‚ was circulated on social media. It asked Hanekom to explain why he should not be removed as the chairperson of the party’s national disciplinary committee.

“…your public utterance detracted from the degree of independence expected of you. As a consequence‚ the independence and integrity of the office of the NDC has been placed in jeopardy and could legitimately be questioned by comrades who appear before this body in future‚” Mantashe said in the letter.

Hanekom is being taken to task for his tweets prior to the motion of no confidence against Zuma. The ANC was embarrassed that up to 40 ANC MPs could have voted in support of the motion‚ exposing the internal rebellion against the president.

Among other things‚ Hanekom tweeted: “Dispel this notion of ‘voting with the Opposition. We just vote against state capture‚ massive looting and corruption. Vote for change…"

In another tweet‚ he said the secret ballot ensured there would be “no retribution because no one will know how you voted”.

“But this must be a vote against state capture‚” Hanekom said in the tweet.

The tweets were thinly veiled encouragement to his fellow ANC MPs to support the motion.

This defiance of the ANC leadership prompted the calculated manoeuvre against Hanekom.

The Zuma camp‚ ably assisted by Mantashe‚ wants to use the disciplinary committee against the president’s opponents‚ primarily to punish them but also to push back against the growing defiance in the party.

For as long as Hanekom remains chairperson of the disciplinary committee‚ it is difficult for them to wield disciplinary action as a weapon to suppress dissent.

But there is also a desire to isolate and humiliate the dissidents.

Hanekom led the charge against Zuma at the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in November‚ which saw a protracted debate about whether the president should step down. At the May NEC‚ Hanekom was again among those who appealed to Zuma to resign.

He is clearly not going to back down.

Hanekom is also the chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation‚ which is at the forefront of the civil society movement actively campaigning for Zuma’s removal from office.

There is hostility against the foundation amongst Zuma’s supporters for the embarrassment the president endured during Kathrada’s funeral when he was requested not to speak.

The stalwart’s funeral and memorial services‚ in the same week as Zuma’s midnight cabinet reshuffle‚ sparked a heightened rebellion against the president.

Hanekom has been increasingly vocal about the problems in the ANC and against state capture.

Speaking publicly in early August he said ANC members were “deeply disappointed by the leadership of the African National Congress”. “They hate it and they are traumatised when things go so badly wrong‚” he said.

Mantashe has repeatedly denounced those MPs who have spoken out against Zuma and the ANC‚ saying they were undermining their organisation and daring it to act against them.

Makhosi Khoza was removed as chairperson of the public service and administration portfolio committee last week and is facing disciplinary action by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal.

But the writing was on the wall for Hanekom when Zuma spoke out against him at an ANC Youth League cadres forum in Pongola recently. Without naming him specifically‚ Zuma said the ANC’s disciplinary committee chairperson was suspected to be among those colluding with the opposition.

“That’s why I am saying the ANC constitution must be applied‚ so that people who have double standards can make way for people who are loyal to the ANC. What we have done is playing with fire. We can’t have comrades who take the ANC for granted‚ who say I have my own conscience…‚” said Zuma.

With that‚ the dogs of war were set on Hanekom.

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