ANC dissidents have a 'duty' to save the party
There would be a strong case to "justify and defend" the defiance of ANC decisions if it was aimed at rescuing the party from disaster.
Former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, the chairman of the ANC's national disciplinary committee, said a political party could be rescued "from becoming the victim of its own bad decisions" when ordinary members stood up against them.
"There comes a moment when you've got to ask, as an ANC member, are certain decisions true to the values and principles of the ANC? If not, do I not have a responsibility as a revolutionary, as a cadre of the movement, to do what is best to rescue [it] from what could be wrong decisions taken by elected leaders?"
Hanekom was speaking in his first in-depth interview since being dismissed when President Jacob Zuma reshuffled the cabinet on March 30. He was one of five ministers, including Pravin Gordhan, who were axed.He said there was no indication that his axing from the cabinet was linked to poor performance or anything he had done wrong in his portfolio. Like Gordhan, he learnt of his dismissal through the media and received no word from Zuma about his decision.
Hanekom said he believed his role in calling on Zuma to step down at the NEC meeting in November and the events around the funeral of struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada in March were factors in his removal from the cabinet.
Hanekom chairs the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and was the MC at the Rivonia triallist's state funeral, which Zuma was asked not to address.
He said that week in March had been an "intensely emotional" one, which began with Gordhan being recalled from an investor roadshow in London, Kathrada's death in the early hours of the Tuesday morning, his funeral on Wednesday and the reshuffle in the dead of night on Thursday.
"There had been rumours about a cabinet reshuffle for quite a while and we had good reason to believe the target was Pravin. We heard about the Monday-night meeting [of the ANC's top six officials].
"It became clear the president wanted to remove Pravin and appoint Brian Molefe, and that he was using a fake intelligence report as the reason to fire Pravin and [Mcebisi] Jonas."
Paying the price of dissent
"I didn't know I would necessarily be included," Hanekom said.
But he possibly signed his own death warrant when he raised his hand to speak at the NEC meeting in November.
"There was no motion that was tabled. It was a real, heartfelt call for the president to consider resigning, to do the right thing. The situation in NEC meetings is that people put up their hands to speak. I was one of several hands that went up. It is a matter of public knowledge and it is true that I was the first of the people who called for his resignation," Hanekom said."It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy for the people who spoke after me either to say: 'Please, Mr President, step down.'"
Those who did so knew what the consequences would be, but there were "compelling reasons" to ask the president to resign. These included the Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla, which found Zuma had violated the constitution, the electorate's message to the ANC in the 2016 local government elections, and the "frivolous charges" that the Hawks and NPA tried to bring against Gordhan.
"I believed that there was some possibility he would hear the call and that he would place the interests of the organisation and the country first," said Hanekom.
He said a number of NEC members asked that a vote be taken but this was denied. The meeting could not obtain consensus on whether Zuma should step down.
With the crisis in the country escalating due to the cabinet reshuffle, the credit ratings downgrades and mounting revelations of state capture by the Gupta family, Hanekom said those who felt like he did decided to repeat the call at the NEC meeting in May. "More people supported it in May than in November. But the same thing happened. The NEC could not achieve consensus around the call."
Hanekom was at the civil society Future of South Africa conference at the Rhema Bible Church in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The conference, co-hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Save South Africa, brought together NGOs, churches, unions, ANC stalwarts, business leaders and prominent South Africans to work on a mass campaign against state capture and to build momentum towards the August 8 motion of no confidence against Zuma.Hanekom: From land to race — and bungee jumps
● Land reform is about much more than restoring land rights and redistribution. It is also about protecting people who are on the land. Expropriation should never be a punitive tool. It should be a tool that you use responsibly to promote land reform. We cannot afford a land reform programme that will result in more unemployment, more poverty and less food produced. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be decisive and hard. The state is already sitting on land that it bought and nothing is happening on it.