Zuma holds private talks at ANC lekgotla

Jacob Zuma met with directors-general and supporters.
Jacob Zuma met with directors-general and supporters.

Former president Jacob Zuma held private talks with influential government officials and ANC leaders on the sidelines of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla this week which was also attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zuma allegedly met with directors-general and two die-hard supporters at the two-day NEC lekgotla at the Saint George Hotel in Irene, Pretoria, on Monday and Tuesday.

"Zuma met with [ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairman] Sihle Zikalala and [provincial secretary] Mdumiseni Ntuli at the holding room. The difficulty is that no one may ever know what they discussed. They met when we went for a break. We just saw them going into a meeting," said one NEC member speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another leader said he saw some government officials holding private talks with the former president. "We do not know what they discussed but the directors-general are implementors in government and he had a relationship with some of them while he was a president."

The ANC lekgotla is attended by ministers, mayors, directors-general as well as alliance partner leaders.

Yesterday, Zikalala lashed out at NEC members, saying they were "mad".

"Why is it an issue to meet him [Zuma]? Is it wrong?" He then said he knew nothing about the meeting.

However, another NEC member said: "There is nothing unusual if JZ met other people. NEC members hold meetings at the holding room all the time."

The member said Zuma was at the plenary when the committee on economic transformation made presentations. "He sat there and did not say anything."

Another member of the NEC said Zuma was still pulling strings behind the scenes. "We know that he has his faction in the ANC. However, he has a right of association."

Zuma's spokesman Vukile Mathabela said there was nothing unusual about the meetings. "During lunch breaks they will sit and talk. I have checked his diary, there were no formal meetings. He was there for lekgotla, nothing else."