There is no rift between President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, the party said on Friday.
“The African National Congress dismisses with the contempt they deserve reports… claiming a ‘rift’ between ANC President, Comrade Jacob Zuma, and the secretary-general, Comrade Gwede Mantashe,” spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
“The national officials of the African National Congress function as a cohesive and principled collective in the execution of their duties at the helm of the organisation.”
The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Zuma had sidelined Mantashe, openly undermined him and directed Cabinet ministers to defy him.
The paper claimed the ANC national executive committee members it had spoken to all painted a picture of Zuma openly at odds with Mantashe.
Kodwa said if one was to analyse the country through the “fanciful headlines of the Mail & Guardian, they would be forgiven for believing the ANC, and indeed South Africa, was a faction-ridden amorphous mess in a state of perpetual crisis unable to take any decisions or provide any leadership to this country”.
“This view is devoid of any truth and a continuation of an age-old attempt to sow division and distrust within the ANC and its leadership,” Kodwa said.
He accused the publication of failing to inform the nation of the good work being done by the government but instead reporting on non-existent issues and allegations.
“It is the result of calculated acts at the whim of an opportunistic and malicious media, ignoring to tell our people genuine stories of development and progress, instead choosing made-up versions and fishing expeditions from faceless and nameless sources — gutter journalism at its best,” he added.
Kodwa questioned the motives behind the story and the people it would benefit. He said he wondered if the agenda was a sinister one of “entrenching the racist narrative of a failing state led by incapable, incompetent and self-serving Africans”.
He maintained the leadership of the party remained united and productively conducted their business of providing leadership and guidance to the different structures of the organisation.
“These determined efforts to pit comrade against comrade have dismally failed before and will no doubt fail once again. The Mail & Guardian has abandoned all principles of the SA Press Code and the very ethics of objective journalism to become a propaganda pamphlet masquerading as a newspaper,” he said.
The publication has defended the story and lambasted the party for throwing the “race card” into the argument.
Deputy editor Moshoeshoe Monare said political issues could be interpreted differently depending on one’s point of departure but to criticise the article, which was written by a black reporter, by using the race card was unacceptable.
Monare said the party had done the same thing ahead of its elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.
“In 2007, when there was a power struggle between Jacob Zuma and then president Thabo Mbeki, Smuts Ngonyama, who was then ANC spokesman, accused journalists of fabricating divisions within the ANC but what happened afterwards is history,” he said. SAPA