ANC NEC: We don't support call for Zuma to step down

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says that the NEC decided it was more important to work towards unity in the organisation.

President Jacob Zuma responding to questions in Parliament on 23 November 2016. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has announced that the party’s national executive committee (NEC) has taken a decision that it does not support the call for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Mantashe is now reporting back on the NEC meeting that saw a motion being debated for Zuma to leave the Union Buildings.

He says that the NEC decided it was more important to work towards unity in the organisation.

The NEC meeting vote against President Jacob Zuma, was extended beyond the weekend into late Monday. The motion was reportedly brought by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.

The party says it will dedicate two days of the party's policy conference next year to a consultative conference that will assess the state of the movement.

WATCH: The ANC NEC media briefing

Mantashe says that the NEC decided it was more important to work towards unity in the organisation.

He says the NEC decided to discuss the issue once and for all.

“We said let’s allow this debate because in our diagnosis, there was this item and it was time to actually unpack this item.”

He explained how consensus is reached.

“The NEC of the ANC has never voted on any issue. Members of the NEC persuade one another to a point of consensus on every matter, however difficult it can be.”

Mantashe says no issues were sidelined.

“Comrades who raised issues in the debate, we are not going to push those issues under the carpet but we will deal with them.”

ANC unity more important

Mantashe appears to be trying to down-play the events of this weekend and saying that the unity of the ANC is more important than the question of whether President Zuma should stay on as president. But just the fact that NEC members were prepared to bring up the issue and that the meeting then had to be extended suggests that this discussion has been significant for the ANC.

The secretary general has also been careful to say that this debate was not suppressed in any way and that everyone was allowed to speak.

However, the party is now likely to be criticised for not grasping the real problems it faces and the fact that aspects of Zuma’s governance are likely to continue to help opposition parties. It is also not clear at the moment what the NEC is actually going to do to foster this unity.