The Gupta family’s propaganda machine also came in for strong condemnation by the NEC, after days of sustained attack against Zuma’s supposed enemies in the ANC.
“In addition, the NEC expressed its utmost disgust at the arrogance, disrespect and reckless journalism displayed by The New Age newspaper, ANN7News Channel and representatives of the Gupta-family. They have characterised the ANC as a group of factions for and against President Zuma.”
These unexpectedly strong condemnations hint at the anger with which senior figures in the party view last week’s Gupta revelations and could mark the beginning of the end for Zuma’s powerful friends. They also suggest the discussion of the Guptas was particularly heated and could explain the four-hour delay in starting Sunday’s press conference.
It appeared for much of the weekend that the Gupta controversy would not be a feature of the executive meeting, which was dominated by discussions of the economy, local government elections and the launch of the party’s manifesto for the first two days.
But pressure mounted on the party’s high-ups through the weekend, with representations received from veterans and the foundations of three ANC icons, urging the party to take steps to correct the course.
The Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said in a joint letter handed to Mantashe at the NEC meeting in Pretoria on Saturday: “We are deeply concerned about the current course on which our country is headed. We believe this course is contrary to the individual and collective legacy of our founders.
“We believe we have reached a watershed moment. We appeal to the national executive committee of the ANC as they meet over the weekend to take note of the mood of the people across the country, to reflect deeply on their solemn responsibilities, to make urgent choices and to take urgent corrective actions in the best interest of South Africa and its peoples.
“We make this call to remain true to our founders and to continue their life’s work to champion the cause of freedom and democracy for our people. It is for these they were ‘prepared to die’.
“History will judge the ANC leadership harshly if it fails to take decisions that will restore the trust and confidence of the people of South Africa,” the letter stated, signed by acting chairwoman of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation Dr Frene Ginwala, chairman of the board of trustees of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, and Derek Hanekom on behalf of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
“We read disturbing stories in newspapers and other media about ‘state capture’; we see important institutions of democracy such as Parliament under great strain; we hear what ordinary South Africans tell us through our work and are challenged by friends and comrades who witness cumulative fragmentation of the ANC, a great organisation our founders helped build and sustain over generations.
“In the spirit of our founders we cannot passively watch these deeply concerning developments unfold and get worse by the day.
“Leaders such as Tambo, Mandela, and Kathrada helped shape the ANC by providing a vision of a better future for all our people.”IOL