CONCERN: ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini attends a news briefing after the league’s national executive committee meeting in Centurion on Sunday. Picture: THULANI MBELE
CONCERN: ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini attends a news briefing after the league’s national executive committee meeting in Centurion on Sunday. Picture: THULANI MBELE

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is facing serious political headwinds with calls for his removal from office gaining momentum, while the ANC remains divided on which course to follow to renew itself.

The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and the party’s provincial leadership in Gauteng sang from different hymnbooks on Sunday about how the organisation should deal with its malaise, while stalwart Zola Skweyiya became the eldest governing party elder to call on Zuma to go.

The ANCWL dismissed the idea of an early elective congress and a consultative conference, saying instead it would continue to lobby for a female successor to Zuma.

The off-script message was widely unexpected as the ANC Youth League, which is aligned to the ANCWL, has backed the idea of an early congress.

The ANC in Gauteng has shot down an early congress, but would prefer a broader, consultative conference that would encompass the party’s alliance partners. The South African Communist Party has made the same call.

Some structures in the Eastern Cape have said they want the president to go and the party is engaging branches on how it should deal with its issues.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said all this pointed to Zuma facing serious political headwinds as the ANC faced the painful reality of having to renew itself.

Analyst Daniel Silke said the ANC was entering an unprecedented state after the municipal elections in which the party failed to retain control of key metros.

ANCWL secretary-general Meokgo Matuba speaking in Pretoria said: "We don’t support any structure of the ANC that calls for an early elective conference. If we are to agree to that as the ANCWL, we believe the agenda of women will disappear and our efforts to emancipate women will be reduced to nothing. The ANCWL has a mandate to carry to the policy conference from the women of SA."

"A woman is going to unite firstly, the country, the ANC and be very decisive and take action where we are supposed to take action," president Bathabile Dlamini said.

ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Hope Papo said: "The PEC (provincial executive committee) believes the challenges facing the ANC can only be resolved through proper and structured organisational processes such as the Special National Consultative Conference.

"The PEC also raised concerns about government ministers and state-owned enterprises that have been engaging in public spats and contradictory public statements that undermine policy coherence in government and cause damage to the economy."

However, veteran Skweyiya told eNCA an early elective conference would be desirable because the ANC was fast losing support and no longer pushing an agenda sought by South Africans. "They don’t want to accept the fact that there is some change that is necessary.

"It may be good if it was an elective one, whereby we can remove everybody including in the provinces and everywhere, [as well as] the top six. And we can start afresh as a people, as an organisation," Skweyiya said.