President Jacob Zuma surprised the nation with a live interview with the SABC this afternoon.
The purpose of the interview, he said, was to “narrate” the sequence of events and to dispel the myth of him being defiant. He promised to release an official response later today in the form of a statement.
Here are five of the most interesting things he said in the hour-long appearance.
I am not being defiant. I disagree.
Zuma says he has been in the ANC for some time and had never disagreed with the leadership – this was the first time.
He maintained he had been “victimised”. No one had told him what he has done wrong and he believed that the whole process was “unfair”.
“I need to be convinced. No one has told me what I have done wrong,” he said.
Zuma has maintained for a while now that he hasn’t been given reasons why he should resign.
We are being plunged into a crisis that the leadership will regret.
Revisiting the Thabo Mbeki era a few times during the interview, Zuma suggested that the ANC’s problems began in 2005 when president Thabo Mbeki fired him as his deputy. He said the matter played itself out at the next conference in Polokwane.
Zuma says when Mbeki was recalled it had nothing to do with two centres of power – when Mbeki finished his term, “another president called Zuma came in as president of the ANC while Mbeki was president of the country.”
Zuma said the Mbeki recall was a grave mistake, and that he was defeated in the national executive committee when he made the case for Mbeki to stay on.
I came into this position through Parliament and it can remove me.
Zuma said that, in the ANC’s letter to him, the party’s leaders said they were open to engagements. He said he had now learnt that action would be taken against him in Parliament
The matter has been handled in a way that contradicts the elective conference’s spirit of unity
Zuma said there was a perception on the continent that he was “being elbowed out” and this was why it is so important for him to personally introduce ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa to continental structures, such as SADC, and Brics. Zuma said he had told Ramaphosa he felt it was important for the two men to appear together in public to show people they were working well together and to help “strengthen the ANC for the coming elections”.
I don’t understand why there is such a rush
Zuma says the Nasrec conference could have discussed his matter but it was not on the agenda so he does not understand why it is so urgent now.
Zuma says he kept asking officials what he has done. Says calls for him to go have been ongoing without cause. Says he didn’t understand why it was suddenly an issue for the ANC leadership.