The African National Congress (ANC) has refuted claims made by an article in the Mail and Guardian on Friday that there is a rift between the party’s leader, President Jacob Zuma and its Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe. Speaking in a statement made in response to the article, the party said it dismisses the allegations “with the contempt they deserve”. On the other hand, the publication is adamant that the story is correct and that time will prove them right as before.
The Mail and Guardian reported that they had information that a rift was developing between the two influential party members, claiming that Zuma was sidelining and undermining Mentashe and directing several ministers to openly do the same. The paper, quoting unnamed sources, used several examples to illustrate this rift. According to the Mail and Guardian, one example that showed that all was not rosy in the ANC bed was when the Secretary General had advised against government’s intervention in the platinum mine strike. However, minister Ramathlodi had gone ahead and attempted to mediate in the strike, apparently after getting a Zuma blessing to do so.
Speaking in response to the accusations, the ANC spokesman, Zizi Kodwa said the allegations were not in the least truthful and that the publication was attempting to sow division in the party leadership which was working as a cohesive unit. He lambasted the publication for failing to inform the public of the good work the government was doing and concentrating instead on non-existent feuds. Kodwa went on to say that one could not help but wonder if the motive behind such a negative and untruthful report was not that of “entrenching the racist narrative of a failing state led by incapable, incompetent and self-serving Africans”. He further accused the Mail and Guardian of abandoning all SA Press Codes and instead had become a “propaganda pamphlet masquerading as a newspaper”.
The publication itself has defended the story, pointing in particular to the fact that the ANC has chosen to flash the “race card” instead of the real issues it had raised. The deputy editor of the Mail and Guardian, Moshoeshoe Monare said it was unfair and unacceptable for the ANC to use race to criticize an article that was written by a black reporter. He added that the same thing happened in 2007 when the paper reported a power struggle between the then President, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, the deputy president at the time, who was to take over after the Mangaung Conference. Smuts Ngonyama, the ANC spokesman at the time had then gone on to demonise the publication and accused it of trying to sow divisions within the ruling party.