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I am being victimised – Zuma

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“It is not policy of the ANC that once you have a new leadership of the ANC immediately there must be a takeover.”

Jacob Zuma

JACOB Zuma believes the ANC’s decision to recall him from the highest office is “unfair” and smacks of “victimisation” and “immature politics” as he battled to think of anything he had done wrong to warrant his exit.

In his first interview since the ANC took the decision to recall him, Zuma said even ANC leaders who tried to persuade him to step down had failed to tell him what he had done wrong.

He had asked this question in meetings with party leaders and structures in the build-up to his recall this week.

“I need to be furnished with what I have done wrong, unfortunately no one has been able to provide what I have done,” he said in an interview with the SABC yesterday.

Zuma said that if he had done wrong then there are appropriate structures and processes in the party, but this had not happened.

Speaking at the presidential residence in Pretoria, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, he said the matter of his recall had been raised a number of times before and he failed to understand why there was so much urgency to do so after the party’s national conference in December.

“It is not policy of the ANC that once you have a new leadership of the ANC immediately there must be a takeover.”

Zuma said this while his party was growing increasingly impatient with him for not giving any indication of whether he was going to resign.

The outgoing ANC president said that he had never defied his party but this time he did not agree with the decision.

Zuma said he had feared that his recall had the potential to plunge the party into chaos, as happened in 2005 when he was axed as the country’s deputy president.

“Leaders should remember that in 2005, a president of the ANC (Mbeki) removed the deputy president (Zuma) and relieved him of his duties. The problems we are dealing with in the ANC started then.”

He also said the removal of Mbeki from the Union Buildings in 2008 plunged the party further into chaos and led to the formation of Cope.

Zuma said he had not supported Mbeki’s recall. But his view was defeated in the NEC, which at the time felt Mbeki should be removed because he had done something wrong, he stated.

“The manner in which you remove the president is a very important matter. You don’t just apply your authority in a manner that can cause problems in the organisation. I hope they will know how to handle the organisation.”

He also took issue with the view that a newly-elected president of the ANC had to take over the reins of state, saying this was not ANC policy.

Zuma had also been very concerned with the violence that played out outside Luthuli House where those calling for him not to be removed from office were involved in altercations with ANC members.

“This worried me because I said we are likely to have violence in this country that is going to be done in our name.”

Zuma said he had tried to contain any fallout that would have arisen from his removal from office. Part of these attempts, he said, included his proposal that he be allowed to resign after June, and that he use that time to introduce Ramaphosa to Brics and SADC.

He also spoke of shared chairing of Cabinet meetings.

This was to help send a message that there was a smooth transition, and to avoid any adverse reaction.

Zuma said the international community had also taken interest in the recall issue, with some African heads of state allegedly approaching Ramaphosa to ask that Zuma not be fired. But the proposals were rejected by the NEC and this irked Zuma further.

He felt that the entire proposed package was not even debated, only his resignation.

“In the ANC you need to be convinced with facts. I felt I am being victimised here.”