South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has broken his silence following the suspension of his predecessor Jacob Zuma from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
Speaking in an interview on January 30, 2024, President Ramaphosa, said the suspension is not likely to have an impact on the party.
He also confirmed that the suspension came following Zuma’s decision to support another party.
“No, no…I am not worried he is a free agent; he has decided to go and support or form another party and the NEC (National Executive Committee) this weekend took a decision that he should be suspended in terms of the Rules of our Constitution 25/60,” Ramaphosa said in an interview.
ANC suspended the former President from the party he once led during his stint as South Africa’s head of state.
In a January 29, 2024, statement, ANC announced the suspension of his membership, giving the former head of state a 48-hour period to respond.
ANC’s announcement of suspending Zuma’s membership came after his controversial announcement concerning this year’s general elections.
The former ANC leader declared he would campaign for the new MK party, (uMkhonto We Sizwe) commonly known as Spear of the Nation in the elections expected between May and August.
“Zuma and others whose conduct is in conflict with our values and principles will find themselves outside the African National Congress,” ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula said.
“The ANC constitution does not allow and that is why the NEC has taken the decision that it has taken,” Ramaphosa noted.
Zuma Supports New Party
MK party is named after ANC’s former armed wing during the anti-apartheid struggle.
The formation of the party has reflected divisions among top leadership figures within the ruling party, with loyalists highly criticizing its emergence.
Likewise, Zuma’s in December 2023 publicly declared that he would vote for another party in this year’s general election.
“Formation of the MK party is not an accident. Forces were converging “to encourage rebel break-away groupings to erode the support base of the ANC,” the ruling party said in a statement.
The party further added that his suspension was necessary to protect and preserve the party’s integrity and damage to its reputation,” the statement read.
ANC has been the ruling party since South Africa gained its independence with Nelson Mandela as the party leader and head of state.
However, the party faces a huge risk of losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1994, after its worst result to date in municipal elections in the year 2021.
Thus, the decision to suspend Zuma was widely expected and will be seen as a further sign of disunity in the movement ahead of the general election, in which the long-dominant ANC is expected to lose ground.
Also, the former head of state has been at odds with the party’s leadership since he was forced to quit as party leader in 2018.
Zuma led the country as the party head for nine years in office from 2009 but his leadership was marked by corruption scandals and sluggish economic growth.
He has lashed out repeatedly against his successor, current President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose allies engineered his ouster.
Zuma’s suspension will only be processed by the party’s National Disciplinary Committee after the upcoming national elections as the party continues with its campaign.