President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has is left with only three weeks to mend fences with powerful labour movement Cosatu and the ANC Youth League or face a revolt at the party’s national general council (NGC) next month.
At the weekend, firebrand Youth League leader Julius Malema and Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi gave strongest indications that Zuma’s second term is in jeopardy.
The controversial ANC youth leader insisted that leaders cannot count on more than one term in office.
Malema told a youth meeting that most ANC leadership should consider themselves “fortunate” if they got a second term at the party’s elective conference in 2012.
“From the president to the additional member, their term ends in 2012 and they must not cry in 2012 if they are not elected. They must be thankful that at least the ANC once considered them.
“Now the ANC is considering other people? If the ANC says ‘continue’, you must be thankful. To be given an opportunity twice is not automatic. There is nothing called two terms in the ANC, it’s one term,” Malema is quoted saying by most weekend publications.
From September 20-24 the youth league of the ruling South African party will hold a conference which will give a clearer indication of whether Zuma will survive.
But in a surprise response, Zuma has reacted by saying “ANC juniors had to respect their elders”, several sources have reported.
“Juniors must obey their seniors all the time. You are not there because you want to be there. You’re put there by the organization.
“The entire organization must respect and abide by decisions. You have no right to undermine people after electing them,” Zuma is quoted saying.
Zuma, who has drawn sharp criticism over his handling of a nationwide strike that has paralysed public services, warned that public discussion of his succession would undermine the party.
“What has happened now, which is unfortunate, is that such utterances have come too early and it is not characteristic of the ANC,” Zuma said in an interview published a Sunday newspaper.
“The ANC doesn’t do so, because if you do that too early you are in fact undermining the functioning of the ANC. It could be an indication of some weaknesses we may be having.”
Meanwhile, the three week countrywide wage strike is set to end Monday as most trade unions were on Sunday reported to have reached an agreement on the government’s latest wage offer.
More than 1,3-million striking public servants have severely affected services in education, health and administration.
The strike has hit the poor – who depend on government services – the hardest.