Is Jacob Zuma losing political power?

Analysts claim Mantashe’s Nkandla comments show Zuma is slowly losing political power.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe during a press briefing about the Nkandla report on 20 March 2014. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe sticks by his claims that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has not properly handled the Nkandla scandal, analysts are claiming these comments show President Jacob Zuma is slowly losing political power.

On Monday morning Mantashe confirmed comments made in the City Press on Sunday that Nhleko was reckless to say more government money should be spent on Zuma's Nkandla home.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi says this comment by someone as senior as Mantashe suggests that the president is not as politically powerful as he was.

"What we are maybe seeing is the possibility of the lame duck factor approaching much sooner than we had thought."

While Daily Maverick political writer Ranjeni Munusamy says it's interesting Mantashe made these comments now and not after last week's alliance summit.

"What we can decipher now is that Mantashe is basically going rogue."

It's been claimed that some people within the ANC want the secretary general elected as its deputy leader at its next conference in 2017.

Matshiqi says, "Consciously or unconsciously he may be responding to these rumours by providing some kind of leadership when it comes to the Nkandla matter."

Munusamy agrees, "He is realising and other people in the ANC are realising that Nkandla is weighing heavy on the organisation."

After conflicting statements from the ANC leadership over the weekend over Nkandla political analysts are speculating the issue is likely show divisions in the ruling party.

Political analyst Steven Friedman says while some ANC members have been quietly critical of the Nkandla issue, divisions and tension in the party is starting to show.

"There is clearly a lot of tension over the Nkandla issue that I have been expecting to surface for some time. We all know that there are ANC members who are privately critical of Nkandla and haven't been coming out of the closet and now it seems they are starting to do that."

In March 2013, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her Nkandla report.

Madonsela found that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the R246 million upgrades to his private home.

She recommended that the president pay back a portion of the money spent on the upgrades.