Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza during the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) meeting in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma’s close relationship with the controversial Gupta family was a hot topic when ANC leaders from Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal met in Nelspruit on Monday to thrash out opposing views ahead of the party's December elective conference.
Mpumalanga ANC chairperson, David Mabuza said the two key provinces wanted to "eliminate divergent views and unite the movement."
But that was not the only concern.
"All the negative aspects that are accompanied by this relationship between the president and the Guptas, we want to distance ourselves from that," Mabuza said. "And it is our view that it's time that the Guptas must allow the ANC to execute its duties. They must behave like any other business people, they should not in any way seek to probably influence the ANC in whatever way."
Mabuza's KwaZulu-Natal counterpart, Sihle Zikalala is a staunch supporter of Zuma, but for the first time on a public platform took a hard line against the Guptas.
"We are emerging from this engagement with a clear view that the conduct, presented in a number of newspapers and in the media at large, the conduct of the Guptas represent the worst we could expect. And if it is proven, serious actions must be taken," Zikalala said.
However, both sides appeared to distance Zuma from the conduct of the Guptas, saying the only the judicial commission of inquiry would decide on his innocence or guilt.
Participants would not give specific names supported to lead the ANC. It has been reported that Mabuza supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, although his province is part of the pro-Zuma faction that backs Mkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the next party president.
Participants at Monday's meeting would not be drawn on which potential successors had been discussed.