Former President Jacob Zuma has been briefed about the programme of action of the African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (ARETA), which includes plans to create unity amongst left-wing political parties and “save our nation”. Zuma met the senior leadership of ARETA at his home in Nkandla, northern Kwazulu-Natal yesterday, where he was presented with the organisation’s 10-point plan ahead of next year’s general elections, according to party president Carl “Mpangazitha” Niehaus.
The seven-hour meeting between Zuma and members of the ARETA National Working Board (NWB), the organisation’s highest decision-making body, was the second interaction between the two parties since the organisation was formed in February.
“We presented the ARETA programme of Action and specifically our 10-point plan. Zuma responded very positively, especially the programme to implement radical economic transformation. He also responded very positively to our efforts to create unity amongst all the left progressive political parties in South Africa. He gave us an extensive overview of his interpretation of the current political situation and what is required in order to save our nation. It was a long meeting which started at about two o’clock in the afternoon, and it was completed at about nine-thirty in the evening,” said Niehaus.
He said while his party would continue to meet Zuma and “gain from his wisdom”, they would never ask him to join ARETA because they respect his loyalty to the ANC, his political home.
“Our objective has never been and continues not to be for him to leave the ANC and become a member of ARETA. For us to engage with him, gain from his wisdom and pursue the objective of saving our nation doesn’t mean he must be a member of ARETA, and we have never requested him to do so because we know his loyalty to the ANC,” he added.
Niehaus said his delegation included his deputy Siyalithatha Mzaidume, Secretary-General Nkosentsha Shezi, Gauteng Provincial Chairperson Jimmy Dhlamini, Gauteng Provincial Secretary Mike Sechabela and Sphe Mahlaba, the party’s chairperson in Kwazulu-Natal. Others were Gauteng Working Board (GWB) member Ntsieane Lesia, Eastern Cape Working Board member Mzomjana Shomela and the head of the party’s religious unit, Bishop Isaac Makoloane.
The delegation also gifted Zuma with a bull, as well as a signed and framed picture of the party’s t-shirt. Asked about the meaning and significance of the gift, Niehaus replied: “That was in terms of Zulu tradition, to respect him, and honour him as an elder member of the Nxamalala Royal Family, and to acknowledge him from our political perspective as the father of radical economic transformation.”
Speaking to African Times ahead of the gathering, Niehaus said the official meeting between Zuma and ARETA was discussed when he, Dlamini and Mahlaba met the former president two weeks ago.
“He expressed the wish to have a more official meeting with the national and provincial leaders of Areta. He indicated that he wants an in-depth discussion with the Areta leadership in order to share his views about current political developments, and what needs to be done, and that he also wants to hear the views of the Areta leadership,” Niehaus said.
“He commended Areta’s openness and preparedness to engage and consult with him. He, furthermore, expressed his warm appreciation for the support that I, and Areta, have constantly given him during all his legal battles, and court appearances,” he said.