23, October 2016
Rifts continue to widen within South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) as a senior member of the party has called on its top leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, to quit after fraud charges were brought up against the country’s finance minister.
Jackson Mthembu, who serves as ANC parliamentary chief, said Sunday that court action against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reflected an abuse of power to settle political scores within the ANC and that the top leaders of the party, including himself, were no longer fit to control the situation.
“President Jacob Zuma is the president of the ANC. When I said the entire ANC leadership that has already taken collective responsibility must take the fall, I meant everybody, myself included, including President Zuma,” Mthembu told a local television.
Gordhan faces charges of wrongdoing and fraud and should appear in court on November 2. Many say the prosecution is an attempt by a wealthy family close to Zuma to muzzle a Treasury chief who has been acclaimed for his disciplinary efforts to revive South Africa’s economy.
Mthembu said prosecuting Gordhan, which he said was politically motivated, was a further blow to the ANC amid the falling rate of public approval for the party. “In my view, a minister is being pursued for political reasons, and then charged with fraud. That’s why I’ve then said, perhaps we are not the leadership that can take the ANC forward under these conditions,” he added.
ANC, a liberation movement of Nelson Mandela which has been in power in South Africa since 1994, suffered its worst electoral performance in August. Experts said the local government elections changed the outlook for national elections in 2019 and showed that voters were becoming increasingly unhappy with issues like unemployment, economic stagnation and scandals around Zuma.