President Jacob Zuma has dared the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) to recall him if they wished to.
Emboldened by the superior number of NEC members who support him, Zuma made the remarks on Sunday while closing the three-day meeting.
The NEC is the party’s highest decision-making body between national conferences.
The meeting discussed the allegations made by current and former ANC leaders about the influence of the Guptas, who are Zuma’s friends, in government.
The Gupta family have consistently denied they wielded corrupt influence on the government, including controlling cabinet appointments.
Zuma’s son Duduzane shares business interest with the Guptas’ sprawling business interests with tentacles across state-owned companies. ANC NEC leaders who attended the meeting said Zuma gave an explanation about the Guptas.
He spoke of how they gave Duduzane a breakthrough when no one wanted to employ him after Zuma was recalled as deputy president in 2005.
He said he was introduced to the Guptas by former minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad. Zuma made similar claims when confronted by Eastern Cape alliance leaders two weeks ago.
The NEC members also said Zuma stated that unlike former president Thabo Mbeki, he had never made the Gupta family participate in government.
He allegedly claimed that Mbeki appointed them to his economic advisory council.
“If you want to recall me, you can go ahead. I will step aside and go to my branch,” an NEC member who wanted to remain anonymous said Zuma told the gathering.
However, Pahad yesterday denied introducing the Guptas to Zuma. “It is not true that President Zuma was introduced to the Guptas by me,” Pahad said.
Another NEC member said Zuma defended the Guptas and accused some ANC leaders of also being controlled by big business.
Zuma told the NEC that after he had appointed Des van Rooyen as finance minister, billionaire Remgro chairman Johann Rupert flew from London to meet with a senior ANC leader demanding the reversal of the decision.
Although Zuma didn’t mention the ANC leader, his claims were similar to those made in a column published by The New Age, a Gupta-owned newspaper, which claimed that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had received a call from Rupert.
Following a discussion on the influence of the Guptas, the NEC decided to invite submissions from those who wished to report allegations of state capture by the family. The submissions will be handled by the office of secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Mantashe said the information would help the party to decide what action to take.
On Monday, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the ANC NEC statement released on Sunday reflected the outcome of the meeting, therefore he could not talk about who said what during the meeting.
This article first appeared in Sowetan